When they tried drumming up attention for a May Day general strike during Wednesday's A's game at O.co Coliseum, a group from Occupy Oakland found out baseball and politics don't always go hand in hand.
The trio climbed up in the second deck of the stadium and unfurled a banner reading "Occupy Oakland: Strike out Capitalism. No work. No School," during the A's game against the Chicago White Sox. They were told to remove the banner.
Then the group started handing out leaflets advertising the May 1 General Strike plan, which includes shutting down the Golden Gate Bridge.
"Got kicked out of and A's game for passing out #BayM1GS flyers. Did a banner drop, too. Since when was a stadium private, not public, property?" a person tweeted at 2:16 p.m. using the name Leon Ghesu. He identified himself later as Leo Ritz-Barr.
He said they were given the choice to leave or relinquish all 1,000 of their fliers.
"Four security guards escorted us out. The fliers cost more than the $2 ticket," he wrote on Thursday. "Too bad we left right when the game got good."
Dave Rinetti, the A's vice president of stadium operations, characterized the incident differently.
"They were not evicted from the stadium," Rinetti said Wednesday. "They walked out on their own."
Rinetti said fliers have been prohibited without prior approval from the A's for as long as he has worked at the Coliseum -- more than 30
But he said he wasn't sure if the A's have a written policy and would check.
Outside the gate, fans can hang banners and pass out fliers, Rinetti said.
Inside is another matter. "We operate the game," he said. "You have to have a ticket to come into the gate. There is a distinction there."
Aside from drunken fans, such disruptions at A's games are rare.
But this isn't the first time the question about free speech has come up at the municipally owned and operated Coliseum complex.
When fans ran afoul of the A's during the 2011 season for hoisting banners critical of co-owner Lew Wolff, former Oakland City Attorney John Russo protested.
He cited lawsuits against banner restrictions based on content at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The A's, in the meantime, prohibited banners that exceed 3 feet by 6 feet.
Coliseum authority Executive Director Mark Kaufman said the A's control game operations, including security.
"For this and in all cases, the buildings, property, et cetera, may be publicly owned but privately managed."