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Occupy arrest reveals new tactic for Oakland police

By Reuters
Friday, February 10, 2012 12:12 EDT
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Occupy Oakland protester arrested via AFP
 
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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Police in Oakland, California, have made their first arrest of an anti-Wall Street protester accused of defying one of about a dozen “stay-away” orders issued to protesters barred by a court from returning to the group’s favorite gathering spot.

The arrest of Joseph Briones, taken into custody on Wednesday night after police saw him at Frank Ogawa Plaza, represents a new tactic by authorities against members of the Occupy Oakland movement who are charged with violent acts or vandalism, police said.

The public square next to City Hall was the site of an Occupy Oakland tent city last fall and remains a central gathering point for activists aligned with national protests against economic inequality and excesses of the U.S. financial system.

Briones was also wanted for violating terms of his probation, Oakland police Sergeant Chris Bolton said on Thursday. Information on his age or place of residence was not immediately available.

Briones was one of 12 demonstrators to be issued restraining orders in Alameda County Superior Court on February 2 barring them from returning to Frank Ogawa Park, following a January 28 demonstration in Oakland that was marked by vandalism, several injuries and hundreds of arrests.

Briones was arrested during that demonstration on charges of felony battery of a police officer and refusing to leave the scene of a riot, a misdemeanor, Bolton said.

Since then, at least one other demonstrator was issued a stay-away order, “and that number is likely to rise,” Bolton said.

“The intent was to obtain stay away orders for individuals likely to return and create further problems,” Bolton said. “I don’t know where we developed the idea. But the strategy itself is proving effective.”

He said recent marches during the past two weeks had been mostly peaceful.

Prosecutors typically seek stay-away orders from criminal court judges after allegations of domestic violence or to quell gang activity. Bolton said he was unaware if any other police agencies were employing similar tactics against demonstrators considered likely to re-offend.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Tim Gaynor)

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