The situation at Occupy Oakland intensified this morning, then came to a close, with police officers entering Frank Ogawa Plaza and Snow Park in a successful effort to remove protesters.
Around 4:30 a.m., cops -- wearing riot gear and with shotguns -- arrived at the scene and announced, via a loudspeaker, that the protesters needed to vacate. The penalty for refusing to leave? Arrest. Of course, there was a mixed reaction, as some people left willingly, while others resisted.
Early reports from police say the raids went smoothly, with all protesters cleared out of the downtown Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in less than 30 minutes.
After the raids concluded, Mayor Jean Quan said the plaza will remain open as a free speech gathering place "for peaceful protest" during park hours, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
While "peaceful" by some accounts, the scene was also chaotic and confusing. Cops claim that the protesters set off tear gas, while the protesters claim that the police were responsible for this action. Below, see a picture of smoke at the scene:
One officer allegedly claims that protesters threw objects -- bottles, skillets, kitchen utensils and even rocks -- at the cops. The cop also said that the protesters "threw plates at us like Frisbees." CBS News has more:
Additionally, Occupiers were said to have chanted, "Police go home, cops go home," with some even saying, "Police are the biggest gang in America." Here's how the Occupy Oakland Twitter feed characterized the police action earlier this morning:
While Quan says that many Oaklanders support the Occupy movement, there have been concerns over safety and sanitary conditions. In a written statement, Quan said:
"We want to thank the police, fire, public works and other employees who worked over the last week to peacefully close the encampment. We also thank the majority of the protesters who peacefully complied with city officials."
City workers plan to clean the park now that the Occupiers are gone, with police barricading the scene to prevent them from re-entering. KGO-TV has more:
While Occupy Oakland has temporarily come to an end -- at least at its previous locations -- KGO-TV is reporting that protesters are telling supporters to reconvene at the Oakland public library's main branch around 4 p.m.