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Oakland Mayor Jean Quan looks over the toppled model of the historic Oakland City Hall building Sunday morning Jan. 29, 2012. The century-old model was damaged during last night's Oakland Occupy violence. (Karl Mondon/Staff)

OAKLAND -- City leaders are preparing new strategies to strike back against Occupy Oakland, but law enforcement experts say there is little authorities can do to keep the movement from continuing with costly demonstrations.

Mayor Jean Quan said Monday that the city would request stay-away orders against about 100 protesters, forbidding them from entering Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, and possibly all of downtown Oakland.

The mayor also said there has been talk about a counter-demonstration to show public frustration with the movement. "The city has to stand up with us now and say 'stop,' " Quan said.

After three weeks of tense, but mostly peaceful anti-police demonstrations, Occupy Oakland exploded into violence again Saturday. Police used tear gas and flash-bang grenades to repel protesters outside the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, coveted by Occupy members as a new home for the movement. Later in the day, protesters broke into City Hall, vandalizing the lobby, and police arrested scores of demonstrators outside the YMCA.

Many of those arrested were still being processed Monday at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

A spokeswoman for the Alameda County District Attorney's Office said no one has been formally charged yet because prosecutors are still waiting to receive a police report on the protest.


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The confrontations, which resulted in 409 arrests, have left both sides digging in for what is increasingly an intractable dispute that has already cost the city about $3 million.

"It's almost like we're being held hostage," Councilmember Larry Reid said. "It's not about Wall Street anymore. It's about us. It's about extracting something from the city."

Occupy supporters say Saturday's protests breathed fresh life into the movement, pointing to sympathy rallies Sunday held in several U.S. cities. "Saturday showed us that people are willing to hold their ground; people are willing to fight back," Occupy member Kara Tina said.

New tactics

Police arrested far more protesters Saturday than at previous Occupy demonstrations. The city is researching various civil actions against protesters, targeting those with a history of violence or multiple arrests, officials say.

Stay-away orders, which would need judicial consent, could force Occupy leaders from the movement's hub at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, and make them vulnerable to fines and jail time if they violate the orders.

Free speech advocates say that would infringe civil liberties, especially for protesters not yet convicted of any crime. "It definitely seems like one of their tactics is to make it easier to pick up protesters and arrest them," said Carlos Villarreal, director of the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter.

Pursuing stay-away or- ders could have drawbacks for the city, said Franklin Zimring, a criminologist and professor at UC Berkeley Law School. Many protesters have no money, making it difficult for the city to collect judgments against them, he said. And filling jails with Occupy supporters could tilt public opinion against the city.

"There is a very limited repertoire of strategies available to the city now," he said.

David Klinger, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, said the city could try to quell protests by arresting demonstrators marching down city streets without a permit, but cautioned that the tactic might backfire.

"That's what they want; they want a conflict," Klinger said. "If some people wish to take on the police, there is really not a lot you can do."

No end in sight

The only point of agreement between authorities and protesters appears to be that a movement that started out in opposition to unregulated capitalism is now fixated on the city and its police department. At one of its biggest assemblies in weeks Sunday, Occupy members voted to hold an anti-police protest outside Wiley Manuel Courthouse next Monday.

Tina said if the city wants a truce, it would need to bring a proposal to the group's assembly and stop policing Occupy activities.

An attempt several weeks ago by the movement's Interfaith Caucus to negotiate with city leaders resulted in two meetings that accomplished very little, said former Councilmember Wilson Riles, a member of the initial delegation.

Riles said efforts to defuse the conflict have been stymied by mutual distrust and internal disagreements within both sides. "Different groups within Occupy have different understandings about what they're about and that makes agreement difficult if not impossible. "

"I don't see a way for it to peacefully end," Riles said. "Like so much in Oakland, Occupy has tremendous potential, but it seems like that potential is being squandered. I think it's come to a point where the larger community is going to have to step in if anything is going to happen."

Bay City News contributed to this report.

MAYOR JEAN quan's emails go online
Mayor Quan's emails posted on InsideBayArea.com on the days leading up to the Oct. 25 eviction have generated a flurry of interest on Twitter from people tweeting as far away as Europe. To view the emails, go to http://bit.ly/xS5mHW