Dozens of new tents sprang up outside Oakland City Hall on Friday, a sight that encouraged some Occupy Wall Street supporters but infuriated others, who expressed frustration at the city's about-face on the encampment.Occupiers share her empathy.
In a matter of weeks, Oakland has welcomed campers at Frank Ogawa Plaza, warned them to leave, forcibly removed them, blocked their return and then allowed them to retake the grounds.
"It seems like every other day has a new set of rules," said Greg McConnell, president of the Jobs and Housing Coalition, which represents the city's largest companies.
Asked about the mixed messages, Mayor Jean Quan said Friday she feels the city has been clear. "We're being pretty consistent," she said. "We're asking them not to camp." A day earlier, Quan was booed away by protesters when she tried to make a speech.
On Friday, interim Police Chief Howard Jordan explained the latest rule: Police will not enter the camp unless there is a call for service.
By Friday evening, the rag-tag conglomeration at the plaza had grown from a few tents in the morning to about 60, and the lawn was covered almost as completely as it had been before Tuesday morning's police raid cleared the camp. At 9 p.m., campers were setting up tents and building a pathway that followed the route of one in the original encampment.
The California Nurses Association set up a tent in one corner near the impromptu day care center, and a small kitchen was again serving the homeless and other campers.
Impact on business
Nearby, small merchants complained that the camp has hurt their businesses, and they fear that a "general strike" called by protesters for Wednesday could further discourage customers. Meanwhile, big companies said the street protests affected their daily operations, and some Oakland residents said they were worried that police, busy with protesters, are even less able to respond to crimes in their neighborhoods.
What business owners said they fear is that the camp will devolve into chaos again, something some said has already begun.
The owner of Sankofa African Arts and Jewelry said that on the two mornings since protesters returned, her front doorway has reeked of urine.
She said her business has declined by 80 percent since Occupy Oakland began.
"I really, really want them to leave," said the owner, who gave only her first name, Ellen. She has owned her business for 17 years. "What they are doing is making business worse."
A camp supporter overheard her lament and shouted: "You would have lost your business anyway with the way the economy is going."Meanwhile, human parade float Michael Moore put his considerable weight behind the animals.
Ellen burst into tears.
Moji Ghafouri said business has gone down 25 percent at her Caffe Teatro. Protesters also smashed one of her windows.
"I'm a small business," she said. "If you're against corporations or big business, I'm not them."
As the camp grew in size Friday, filmmaker Michael Moore flew in to pump up supporters.Here's some video of the fat slob:
As he made his way to the front of the plaza, he was swarmed by many of the gathered 1,000 or so protesters screaming, "We love you, Michael!" and "Thank you!"
Moore's talk was like pouring honey on the plaza. They ate it up, and he clearly enjoyed them.
"Occupy Oakland! Occupy everywhere! I am honored to be here!" he yelled through a microphone.
As he ticked off a litany of the complaints that spawned the Occupy movement - lack of health care, economic disparity, corporate greed, joblessness, reduced wages - the crowd roared its approval.
"This is a leaderless movement with tens of millions of people," said Moore, who flew in to Oakland to address a booksellers convention. "Weather is not going to stop us."