On November 10 officials from several cities nationwide held a conference week to compare notes on their respective Occupy protests, but a spokesperson for Portland's mayor insists there's no conspiracy to end the movement. The existence of the call was revealed by Oakland City Mayor Jean Quan, who told the BBC on Tuesday (around the 5:30 mark), "I was recently on a conference call with 18 cities across the country who had the same situation where what had started as a political movement and a political encampment ended up being an encampment no longer in control by the people who started them."
Quan's quote immediately sparked speculation that the city mayors had been colluding on the recent wave of crackdowns nationwide. In the five days since that phone call, police have either raided the Occupy camps or ordered them to be moved in New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, Portland and San Francisco. On Tuesday, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told The L.A. Times that his department is working on a timeline to close down that camp as well.
In an interview with The Atlantic Wire, Amy Ruiz, spokesperson for Portland Mayor Sam Adams, sharply denied that city governments planned any kind of coordinated attack on the Occupy movement. But she did provide details about the call that Quan discussed. She said the nationwide conference call was organized by the United States Conference of Mayors on Thursday, November 10, with officials from 11 cities (as opposed to the 18 Quan cited) including five mayors, who spoke about the conditions in their cities. There was also a previous call coordinated by Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the U.S. Conference of Mayors on October 13, and another is scheduled for Wednesday, November 16. But the conversation was not focused on coordinating raids. "The mayors talked about how difficult it is to communicate with the leaderless movement," Ruiz said. "It was not a strategy session it was not a coordinating session. … [Our] staffer who sat in on the meeting described it as a group therapy session."
However, the city mayors aren't the only ones sharing stories. The National Association of Police Chiefs has also been coordinating conference calls. Ruiz told us that law enforcement agencies have been communicating separately "about crowd control methods — what has worked, what hasn't worked." We've reached out to them and will update you when we learn more.
Update: Andy Kroll at Mother Jones spoke to the U.S. Conference of Mayors and reports that "top police brass" were indeed on last Thursday's conference call, adding scrutiny to the claim that cities are not colluding on the recent crackdowns on Occupy camps.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.