Anti-Wall Street protesters in Oakland rejected a call by the California city’s police union on Friday for them to leave their encampment, creating the potential for a showdown.
The police request came one day after a man was shot to death near their protest site. But Occupy Oakland demonstrators said the shooting, which took place at a public transit station at the edge of Frank Ogawa Plaza on Thursday, had nothing to do with their movement.
The Oakland Police Officers Association, in an open letter to the protesters, said that police sympathized with their movement but that the city was in a “state of emergency.”
“You have sent the world a strong message; now it is time to go home. Your leaving today, peacefully, of your own free will, on the 30th day, will send a message to Oakland that you care about our citizens and respect our city,” the union said.
“With last night’s homicide, in broad daylight, in the middle of rush hour, Frank Ogawa Plaza is no longer safe,” the union said. “Please leave peacefully, with your heads held high, so we can get police officers back to work fighting crime in Oakland neighborhoods.”
Protest organizers said the shooting was an example of gun violence that flares routinely in Oakland and accused officials of intentionally leaving street lights off around the plaza after dark over the past two nights.
The protesters have set up a tent camp in the public square outside City Hall and do not plan on dismantling it, organizer Cat Brooks said. “People were being murdered long before the Occupy Oakland encampment happened,” Brooks said. “If police say that’s why they can’t do their job, that’s laughable.”