OAKLAND -- One day after Jean Quan got her share of Bronx cheers during a forum about the Occupy movement, both the mayor and forum organizers expressed no regrets about what transpired at the Commonwealth Club.
"When you're the mayor of the whole city, you have to talk to everybody," Quan said Friday. "It was a chance to talk and have a dialogue."
Quan, who was joined on the panel by three Occupy organizers and a professor, found herself in the cross hairs of audience members, many of whom had stayed at the encampments in Oakland and San Francisco.
Twice Occupy supporters shouted at Quan -- first to challenge her definition of an anarchist and later to demand her recall during an 80-minute panel discussion. Two audience members were escorted out of the forum.
It was the most raucous crowd Caroline Moriarity Sacks can recall during her seven years with the Commonwealth Club, but she still considered the event a success. "I don't regret doing it for one second," she said. "We fostered a debate."
Quan, who said Oakland has spent $5 million dealing with the Occupy encampment, offered no regret during the forum over evicting protesters from Frank H. Ogawa Plaza last month.
She praised them for furthering progressive goals like increasing taxes on the rich but criticized factions within Occupy Oakland for not disavowing violence or considering the needs of small business owners who she said suffered during the encampment.
"Chinatown immigrant restaurants are not the rich, and if you can't define the 99 percent better than that, that's a problem with the movement," she said.
The Occupy protests have damaged Quan politically, alienating her from both longtime progressive supporters angry that she twice ordered the Oakland camp evicted and from business leaders upset that she allowed the encampment to persist for weeks.
The mayor has especially become a lightning rod for Occupy participants, several of whom turned their back to her as she spoke and later led chants of "Recall Quan."
"Quan was treated in the way in which one could expect her to be treated," said UC Berkeley Linguistics Professor and fellow panelist George Lakoff. "Yeah, she got heckled, but it wasn't terrible heckling."
Lakoff urged Occupy supporters to take a page out of the tea party playbook and join Democratic Party organizations gearing up for elections. "If you can run an encampment, you can run a campaign," he told them.
Quan made little attempt to make inroads with adversaries in the audience.
When an audience member asked Quan if she thought her husband had engaged in "economic terrorism" by being present at the first port protest, the mayor said her husband was part of a group trying to prevent violence and added, "we've been political activists since we were teenagers. You can respect that or not."
Several panelists directed their comments to the mayor. Nadim Haida, who has participated at several Occupy encampments told Quan, "we're no long asking for your permission to tolerate or not tolerate anything. This is about a reclamation, an insurrection and taking back what is ours."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.