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Occupy Oakland Videos: Protester Tackles Bank-Window Smasher; Man Shot by Police With Non-Lethal Weapon

| November 4, 2011
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Here are two videos from our reporter Andrew Stelzer, taken on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, during the mass demonstration by Occupy Oakland.

In the first video, a black-clad protester smashes the window of City National Bank on Webster Street in Oakland. He then tries to walk away but is tackled by Zach Voorhees of San Francisco. The man is then held by other protesters, but was allowed to walk away, according to Stelzer.

Stelzer catches up to Voorhees and asks, “why did you do what you did?”

“This isn’t about violence,” says Voorhees. “This is about changing the system. And if people cause violence then they are going to disrupt the narrative and they are going to take focus away and they are going to give police the justification to crack down… Violence does not change. Non-violence is the most powerful weapon that we have as citizens…I don’t know who these people are, but they have masks, they have black flags, and they’re trying to smash up. And I’m going to stop that if I can because I want this march to remain peaceful.”

The second video is more disturbing. It is also darkly lit and you will need to take into account Andrew Stelzer’s reporting to put it into any kind of context. Here are the main points:

  • The incident occurred about 1:20 a.m. Thursday morning, about seven or eight minutes after police had descended upon and re-assserted control over Frank Ogawa Plaza. At the time, police were in the last few minutes of making arrests.
  • The man you will see injured in the video was walking toward police when he was shot with what appears to be a non-lethal weapon, judging from the knee wound he displays near the end of the video.
  • Stelzer estimates the man was about 10 feet from police when the shot was fired.
  • Stelzer does not know if police issued a warning before firing.
  • Judging from his bearing and the way he was walking, the man did not appear to apprehend the gravity of the situation he was in. He was kind of “striding along the side of the plaza,” according to Andrew. The man did not appear to be part of the protest, but it’s impossible to say at this point.
  • We haven’t determined yet if the man was taken to the hospital. If anyone knows anything about the incident, please let us know.
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Category: Law

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  • Triton

    I was in the immediate area where this shooting took place, taking photos and recording sound, though I didn’t get any images of this event.

    The police were holding a line, and most of the crowd was standing well back. Nobody was attacking the police in any way.

    Suddenly, a shot rang out. The victim began wailing, bent over double and limped to refuge in the alcove, as shown in the video. I was about 20 feet away as this was happening. I got a closer look at the man from 10 feet away as other demonstrators carried him out seeking medical aid.

    News accounts the following morning reported that some occupiers recognized the man as a homeless regular in the Plaza area. My immediate impression was that the man was homeless, and “not all there.”

    He may have been disoriented, he may have approached too close to the police line, but he posed no threat, there were other ways police could have handled him, and there was absolutely no excuse for shooting him.

    The shooting was a criminal act committed in the presence of 100 Oakland police officers, and not one of them reacted to arrest the perpetrator among them. That should tell us all we need to know about Oakland police accountability and self-regulation.

    Police who cannot recognize a mentally handicapped person and respond appropriately, have no business being police officers. They are a public menace.

    The cop who shot this man knew exactly what he was doing. There are sadists in the police force, and they get their jollies shooting people they think are helpless to defend themselves.

    Well, on this night, the police guessed wrong, and shot another (second) person who is willing and able to pursue justice.

    About 30 minutes earlier, in this same location, and in the same totally unprovoked and criminal manner, a cop shot Scott Campbell, who captured his own shooting on video.
    Campbell’s Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0pX9LeE-g8&
    Oakland Trib account: http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_19284775