Police on Wednesday cleared more than a dozen tents and at least that many irate protesters from a new Occupy Oakland encampment in West Oakland, citing and releasing 14 people and arresting one person for trespassing.
It's not clear when the encampment began on a vacant lot at 20th and Peralta streets, near Mandela Parkway, because it was only publicized Tuesday and had been hidden behind a chain-link fence covered with slats and graffiti.
The occupiers claim the lot has been vacant for years, thus giving them the right to camp there.
But when the landowner filed a complaint with police Wednesday, officers moved in and started clearing people and their property.
Not all the occupiers were present when the police moved in shortly after 5 p.m., and some returned to find their belongings behind the fence, which was guarded by a line of police.
Three campers left voluntarily, police said, but officers placed 14 who didn't leave in handcuffs, cited and released them. One man, who failed to provide identification, was arrested for trespassing, police said. No injuries were reported to officers or protesters.
Tents, sleeping bags, cooking stoves, books, clothes and food were scattered on the street outside the lot after the police action, and the crowd grew angrier and angrier at police. Protesters called officers "pigs" and more colorful expletives and chanted, "Go solve a crime, stop wasting time."
Police remained calm
Police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson said officers will continue to monitor the site to ensure protesters don't try to reclaim the camp. She said officers moved in after a complaint from the owner, who "did not give consent for folks to be on the property and asked for Oakland police to have them removed."
Part of the lot is owned by Brian Collins, senior vice president of Cassidy Turley Commercial Real Estate Services in Oakland. Collins said earlier Wednesday that having campers on the land "presents a tremendous amount of liability for us."
Occupiers, though, disputed that they were camping on a parcel owned by Collins or anyone else.
They said they researched the land and set up camp on a section of the lot, which is split into several parcels, upon which no taxes are being paid and that has no legal owner.
Campers were calling the site the Cypress Triangle after the neighborhood where it is located and the shape of the parcel.
Earlier in the day, donated food; a hole in the ground, surrounded by a blue tarp, for use
Oakland had been without an Occupy encampment for more than five weeks.
The last camp was cleared by police late Nov. 22. Protesters had taken over the lot at 18th and Linden streets a day earlier but left when police told them to leave.
That encampment formed after police cleared an encampment at Snow Park near Lake Merritt on Nov. 20, and followed the Nov. 14 raid on Occupy Oakland's largest camp, at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. A camp in a lot at 19th Street and Telegraph Avenue was up for one day before it was quickly and peacefully broken up by police on Nov. 10.
Branches of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which started in mid-September in New York City, were initially protesting widespread unemployment and corporate greed, but the movement has spread to encompass a wide variety of social causes and issues.
Staff photographer Jane Tyska contributed to this report.