Originally published on Oakland North
Oakland police late Thursday night confiscated the SS Don’t Let the Banks Punk You Out, a raft launched onto Lake Merritt less than a week ago in order to advertise for the West Coast port shutdown and Occupy the lake — or Aquapy it, rather.
During the late evening raid, three occupiers sailing on the 10-foot-long vessel were detained briefly and then released. At least one occupier, who gave his name as Jeff Boffo, of Oakland, was ticketed for not having a boat permit. ”[OPD] equated it to getting a speeding ticket,” he said after his release from custody.
Following a call on Twitter for supporters to come down to Lake Merritt at around 10 p.m., about 30 people showed up at the sailboat clubhouse, where seven police cars and at least 10 officers could be seen.
By 10:30 p.m., a police vessel with six officers was bringing the Aquapy vessel back to the docks at the boat house. Upon arriving, the officers escorted the three occupiers, their arms zip-tied behind their backs. They were then led to the boat house and detained for about 30 minutes before being released to an enthusiastic crowd.
Officers on scene would not comment on why the occupiers were being detained, and OPD’s Public Information Officer couldn’t be reached for comment. But according to Boffo’s ticket, he was being cited for violation of city code 12.64.200, which pertains to having an unpermitted boat on the lake. The protesters had also previously been warned by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department that they could not stay out on the lake past the park’s closing at 5 pm.
One of the people who helped construct the boat, and who gave his name only as Gino, was on scene. He criticized the OPD for worrying about a boat on the lake when there is so much crime occurring in the city. ”I think they have better things to worry about in Oakland,” he said.
Gino said that OPD warned the occupiers over the past three days or so that what they were doing was illegal, though he said that they would not specify what it was that they were doing wrong.
Following the dismantling of Occupy Oakland’s camp on Frank Ogawa Plaza a month ago, protesters have shifted tactics, finding new and inventive ways to spread their message about what they see as the ills of Wall Street and a corrupt political system. Along with Aquapy, occupiers in the city have also taken over a foreclosed home on Mandela Parkway and 10th Street and, last Monday, attempted to shut down the Port of Oakland in a coordinated action with other West Coast cities.