On the morning of November 14, Oakland police evicted protesters from the Occupy Oakland camp at Frank Ogawa Plaza near City Hall. Aegis staffers offered two different perspectives.
Pro: Protesters deserve to stay
At 5 a.m. on Monday, Oakland police went into Frank Ogawa Plaza and evicted all protesters that were there.
I believe that Oakland protesters had the right to be out there voicing their opinions. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, which gives us all the rights to speak what we want to say and to say what we think. It also gives us as the people the freedom to have peaceful assembly, which the protesters were doing.
During the many weeks that the protesters have been camped in the Plaza, there have been few incidences of violence. For the most part, Occupiers have been peacefully protesting.
The freedom of assembly should allow us to go where we want, when we want, as long as we’re peaceful. The City’s offer for protesters to use the Plaza during the day is absurd. If we can protest during the day, we should also be able to at night.
The protest is all about fixing Oakland. Oakland’s problems don’t stop at night. Neither should the protest.
Con: Oakland was right to evict protesters
The people who have been occupying downtown Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza aren’t organized enough.
When I’ve been there interviewing and observing in the past few weeks, most of the people didn’t know exactly what they were fighting for. They were just angry people. They wanted change, but they didn’t know exactly what they wanted to change or what they needed to do to change it.
Some protesters are there for reasons unrelated to the movement. Some people in the Occupation set up so that they could steal from other protesters; protesters would leave their stuff in the camps, and others would come and steal it.
The City of Oakland was right to evict protesters from Frank Ogawa Plaza, because at this point, they’re just becoming a nuisance. The City is not denying them the right to protest; protesters are still allowed to camp at nearby Snow Park, and to protest during the day at the Plaza.
The Occupy movement needs to organize itself. If they want to see real change, they need to appoint someone who can speak directly to Mayor Jean Quan to talk about the changes that need to be made.