A Peaceful Movement? Man Shot and Killed at Oakland Occupy Encampment
November 10th, 2011
By Demian Bulwa,Matthai Kuruvila, Chronicle Staff Writers
OAKLAND -- A man was shot and killed this evening near the Occupy Oakland encampment outside City Hall, inflaming debate over whether the month-old gathering should be allowed to remain.
The man, whom several Occupy campers said they did not recognize, was shot outside the 12th Street BART station on Frank Ogawa Plaza at 14th Street and Broadway about 5 p.m. He was taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland, where he was pronounced dead, said interim Police Chief Howard Jordan.
Jordan said two groups of people had gotten into an argument and that someone from one group fired at the other. No arrests have been made, and the dead man's name has not been released.
Nathan Stalnaker, 29, of Oakland said he had seen several young men surrounding the victim on the ground. They were kicking and punching the man, who was trying to shield his face from the blows, Stalnaker said.
A number of people from the camp came over and tried to break it up, but Stalnaker said one of the assailants then pulled out a gun.
Stalnaker said he didn't see the shooting but heard several shots.
After the shooting, a number of people from the camp stood in a line and locked their arms, trying to keep onlookers away so Oakland firefighters could tend to the victim, Stalnaker said.
Several longtime Occupy Oakland campers said they did not believe the shooting was related to the encampment.
"What happened is not a symptom of Occupy Oakland," said protester Fungai Gora, 28. "Crime is a symptom of the city."
The protesters canceled a "birthday party" that had been scheduled of this evening to commemorate the month-old camp. Many protesters worried about the potential fallout and whether the incident would reflect poorly on the encampment.
"This was not an internal incident," said one of the campers, 35-year-old Shake Anderson. "What happened was the result of neighborhood violence. Don't forget, we're in downtown Oakland."
Two prominent critics of the encampment, however, said the question of whether the dead man or the killers were protesters was irrelevant.
"This camp is attracting an element that's adding to the problem that already exists," said City Council President Larry Reid.
Reid was one of five council members who held a news conference Wednesday calling for the camp's removal. They were largely drowned out by protesters.
Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who has also called for the camp's removal, said tonight, "Unfortunately, we will have no excuse for not taking action. This was escalating and was going to happen.
"It doesn't matter what people say," De La Fuente said. "This is a result of our inaction, and the mayor is not doing anything. The mayor is absolutely and unequivocally responsible for this."
Mayor Jean Quan was not immediately available for comment. Before the shooting, Quan said she wanted Occupiers to leave on their own and said any eviction plan had to be "thoughtful."
BART closed the 12th Street Station because of the shooting.
Shortly after the shooting, KGO-TV cameraman Randy Davis said he had been punched in the back of the head by someone who objected to his filming the scene. Davis said he believed he suffered a concussion.
Lights in Frank Ogawa Plaza have been out for three days because several nearby electrical breakers tripped, Jordan said.
"They're going to come back on," Jordan said. "We need to have better lighting there."
Chronicle staff writer Henry K. Lee contributed to this report.