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Interview with Mayor Quan

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Oakland police chief Howard Jordan and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan pause during a press conference on Oct. 26, 2011.

 

Joshua Johnson: From KQED News, I'm Joshua Johnson. Police officers are clearing out what's left of the occupy Oakland encampment near City Hall. Just before 6 a.m., a host of law enforcement from various agencies moved in as promised after days of serving eviction notices to the squatters. Some occupiers, like Ali Addem, had argued that the space belonged to them now. 

Ali Addem: When we -- when we took occupation of this space, this became our private property. Because this is our own world here, this is our own property -- but you know -- this is the public's property, ok? And with that is the little space that we have occupied -- our tents and our sleeping areas? That's pretty much our land.   

JJ: But city officials reclaimed that public space this morning, making a number of arrests as everyone kept the peace. We're joined now this morning live by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Mayor, good morning. 

Mayor Jean Quan: Good morning.

JJ: I understand that you were able to walk through the encampment this morning after the police shut it down again. Is that so? And if so, what did you see? 

JQ: You know, what you'll see is that there has been quite a lot of squalor there. I listened to your morning report and I listen to it every morning. The reality was that the reason we closed the camp was because of the violence and the safety issues. We had a murder earlier this weekend. There had been repeated reports of violence, drug dealing, and sexual assaults. And that's become a real problem of the movement. And over the weekend, many of the peaceful demonstrators had left the camp. 

 JJ: Has there been any progress investigating that murder? 

JQ: You'll have to talk to the police chief. 

JJ: I imagine it's been tough navigating supporting the protestors and being the face of the government's authority. You and a number of city officials including the Oakland police officer's association have said that you support the 99 percent. Many of you have said you are the 99 percent. But the reality is that you are also the mayor who has a fiduciary and a legal responsibility to keep the city safe and orderly and on time and on budget. How have you navigated that and do you think it may get easier now going forward? 

JQ: You know, being a mayor is never easy. A lot of people know I have an activist background. On one hand, I support a lot of the movements involved. On the other hand, I'm the mayor of the city and have to guarantee safety and what's good for the economy in Oakland. So it's been very tough but I've made every decision based on what I've thought was best for the safety and the economy of the city. The Occupy Oakland movement has probably cost the city millions of dollars, took away precious police officers out of my tougher neighborhoods that are facing violence. We just had to end the encampment. 

JJ: Some of the chatter on Twitter that we've been checking out this morning would suggest that at today's General Assembly, they're going to reconnect around 4 o'clock, I believe, near the Oakland Public Library and may decide to re-re-Occupy the plaza. How long do you see this going on -- where the squatters show up and you kick them out and they show up again and you kick them out again and they show up again -- how -- how do you make an end game to all of this? 

JQ: Well first of all, there is a group of the peaceful demonstrators who realize that they were not getting any organizing done who have left and they're over at snow park and are looking for a private space. Similar to Wall Street. Wall Street is actually in a private park and so this is supposed to be about the organizing and not about encampments. That's a tactic and not a solution. The Plaza is a public space. It belongs to all of Oakland and we'll allow people to gather there for free speech -- they can continue to have their general assemblies, but they're not going to be allowed to camp. 

JJ: There had been reports this morning from the Chronicle that your legal adviser Dan Siegel had resigned. He posted on his Facebook page and his Twitter feed the same note. It says "No longer Mayor Quan's legal adviser. Resigned at 2 AM. Support Occupy Oakland, not the 1% and its government facilitators." Your reaction to that? 

JQ: Dan and I are old friends from the old days. He was working on one project for me. I thank him for that work. People move on, I'm moving on. Today I'm really focused on some job creation, working with our federal police monitor. I'm doing the work of the city and you know, he and I will have our differences over the years. 

JJ: To people who may be looking at Oakland and saying -- what is it about this town that seems to be facilitating this? There are plenty of Occupiers in other cities -- and this will be the last question and I'll let you go -- what do you think it is about Oakland that has made this a) fertile ground for the movement, and B) so intransigent to try and get the Occupiers to leave? 

 JQ: You know, Oakland really is a city of the 99 percent. And we've been the birthplace of many movements for peace and justice. I think the problem we have is we have a very large intransigent group of people who were more into fighting the police and making the plaza the issue rather than the issues of the 99 percent movement. And I'm hoping that people are beginning to see that and separating themselves off from people who are sometimes violent and continuing with the work of organizing. 

 JJ: Gotcha. That's Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Mayor, thank you very much for your time. Much appreciated. Mayor Quan will rejoin us at 9:00 with KQED's Forum with Michael Krasny. I'm Joshua Johnson -- more coverage of Occupy Oakland and the day's other stories online at KQED.org.

 

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