Police in riot gear cleared anti-Wall Street protesters on Tuesday from the plaza in front of Oakland’s City Hall where they had been camping for about two weeks, prompting health and safety concerns among city officials.
Seventy-five people were arrested, mostly on suspicion of misdemeanour and illegal lodging, as hundreds of officers and sheriff’s deputies from more than a dozen agencies went into the encampment with tear gas and beanbag rounds around 5 a.m. (local time), police said.
About 170 protesters were at the site, but no one was injured, according to police.
Television news footage showed protesters being taken away in plastic handcuffs without incident.
One of those arrested, Aiyahnna Johnson, 30, of Oakland, had been living at the camp with her two-year-old daughter. “We want the best for you guys, that’s all,” she was quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle telling two officers who were leading her away.
The Oakland site was among numerous camps that have sprung up around the U.S., as protesters rally against what they see as corporate greed and a wide range of other economic issues. The protests have attracted a wide range of people, including college students looking for work and the homeless.
The police action in Oakland began around 4:40 a.m. (local time) when an officer on a loud speaker told the protesters they were illegally blocking the plaza and were subject to arrest, according to the Chronicle.
The newspaper reported that several hundred people appeared ready to defend the camp about an hour before police moved in, placing Dumpsters, boards, pallets and even metal police-style barricades around the plaza.
Anthony Owens, 40, of Oakland, said some people in the camp left as word spread about possible police action. The remaining protesters locked arms and shouted as officers moved in from four corners, Mr. Owens said.