Yesterday, Oakland police forcibly removed hundreds of protestors who had been camped in Frank Ogawa Square as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The protestors, who had been engaged in a peaceful, though not necessarily legal, demonstration, were encircled and fired upon with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades.

You can watch a video here on the police onslaught.

Mayor Jean Quan cited sanitation and safety issues for the her decision to crack down so severely on the Occupy Oakland camp. One protester, interviewed on the California Report this morning, said he understood those concerns, but hoped they could have worked out a mutually agreeable way of dealing with them.

Is there another way to deal with the complications of demonstrators camping out on public property?

Absolutely. In Los Angeles, the city government has accommodated and even supported the OWS protesters. They have ensured that the camps are kept clean and safe while allowing the occupants to exercise their rights to assembly and free speech. And the city, which has a City Council supportive of OWS, has come off looking better for it. L.A. seems like a tolerant place that recognizes and respects a diversity of perspectives. Isn’t that what the cities of the Bay Area are supposed to be the paragons of?

Instead of being a haven for democracy, diversity and non-violent free speech, we have a city increasingly known for using the brute force of the police to keep folks in line. It’s bad news for the OWS protesters, but worse news for the city of Oakland.

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