Occupy Oakland

Occupy Oakland
Occupy Oakland
Part of the Occupy movement
Occupy Oakland 99 Percent signs.jpg
Occupy Oakland on November 2, 2011
Date October 10, 2011 – ongoing
(43 days)
Location Oakland, California
Status Ongoing
Causes
Characteristics
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures
No Central Leadership
  • Mayor Jean Quan
  • Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan
  • City Administrator Deanna Santana
Arrests/Injuries
Arrests: 105+[1]
Injuries: 4+[1][2]

Occupy Oakland is a series of demonstrations including the occupation of public spaces that began in downtown Oakland at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in front of Oakland City Hall in Oakland, California on October 10, 2011. It is allied with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City and is one of several Occupy movement sites in the San Francisco Bay Area. Other sites included Occupy San Francisco, Occupy San Jose and Occupy Cal.

Occupy Oakland began as a protest encampment at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. It was cleared out by multiple law enforcement agencies on October 25, 2011.[3] That evening when protesters tried to reclaim the site, clashes between police and protesters resulted in multiple injuries and over 100 arrests. Scott Olsen, an Iraq war veteran, suffered a skull fracture allegedly caused by a police projectile. His injury came to national attention and became a rallying cry for the Occupy movement.[1] The site was re-occupied by protesters the next evening. The general strike brought thousands of demonstrators to downtown Oakland for a day of action, including a march to the Port of Oakland which was forced to shut down operations. That evening, clashes between protesters and police again occurred when protesters occupied a vacant building in downtown Oakland. Two more protesters, one of whom is an Iraq War veteran, were seriously hurt by police and both actions were captured on video. Investigations into the alleged police misconduct are being conducted by the Oakland Police department, the ACLU, and the National Lawyers Guild.

Law enforcement once again cleared the protest encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza on November 14, 2011. Mayor Jean Quan’s decision to allow the police intervention resulted in the resignation of the mayor's unpaid legal adviser Dan Siegel and Deputy Mayor Sharon Cornu.[4] Other protest encampments were created and subsequently dismantled by law enforcement. The last encampment at Snow Park was cleared after an early morning raid on November 21, 2011. The movement was left with no physical presence occupying any public space overnight in the city of Oakland. [5]

Contents

Occupation sites

Frank H. Ogawa Plaza

An overhead layout of Frank H. Ogawa plaza.
Tents within the protest camp of Occupy Oakland at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza on November 12 2011. Oakland City Hall stands in the background.

First occupation

The first occupation lasted for 15 days from October 10 to October 25. Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, was symbolically renamed "Oscar Grant Plaza" by the protestors, referring to the young African American man who was shot in the back by a white BART police officer in 2009, an incident that was the catalyst for major protests in 2009 and 2010. [6] A diverse array of people inhabited the camp, ranging from students and professionals to unemployed workers and homeless people.[7] The camp grew to roughly 150 tents that were used for both camping and to provide essential services to protesters and visitors. A "miniature city" evolved complete with a kitchen, library, a bicycle-powered media center, and children's village. There were tents dedicated to arts and crafts, medical attention, supplies, and conflict resolution. Activities were scheduled throughout the day including committee meetings, discussion groups, and yoga classes. [8]Actor and activist Danny Glover spoke at a rally on October 15. [9] Hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco donated food, supplies, and tents to the protesters the night he played a concert in town.[10] The grandnephew of labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez got married at the site on October 20, 2011. Mateus Chávez and his fiancé Latrina Rhinehart had not planned to be married at a protest encampment, but as supporters of Occupy Oakland, it made their wedding "that much more meaningful." [11]

The reaction of local politicians and city officials was mostly positive at first. In fact, Oakland councilwoman Desley Brooks was among the protestors sleeping in tents on the inaugural night of the encampment.[12] Councilwoman Jane Brunner expressed support for the movement by stating, "It's about time people are speaking up." [13] Mayor Jean Quan visited the protest site the next day on October 11, 2011, and "condoned the occupation".[14] City administrator spokeswoman Karen Boyd said that the city's plan was to let the protesters stay "As long as they are peaceful and respectful of the rights of all the users of the plaza.".[15] Bay Area U.S. Congress members Barbara Lee and Pete Stark also released statements of support.[12] Law enforcement cleared the encampment on October 25.

Second occupation

The second occupation lasted for 18 days from October 26 to November 14. The "miniature city" was re-created with the addition of an interfaith tent and grew to about 180 tents.[16] The city of Oakland distributed notices of violation to protesters for three days from November 11 through November 13. The notices stated that the protesters where in violation of the law by lodging overnight, obstructing the use of a public park, and making fires in a public park.[17] Law enforcement cleared the camp the morning of November 14.

Plaza amphitheater

The amphitheater at Frank Ogawa Plaza has been and is currently being used as the meeting place for Occupy Oakland's general assembly on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings at 6 pm.[18]

Snow Park

Snow Park, a small park beside Lake Merritt, was established as a satellite occupation site after Frank Ogawa Plaza had filled up with tents.[19] [20] The Snow Park protesters initially spent time maintaining the grounds of the park.[8] They were removed from the park on the morning of October 25, an hour after Frank Ogawa Plaza was raided.[3] The camp was reestablished at a later date, and consisted of 20 tents by November 13. Several of those tents were moved from Ogawa Plaza when a second series of eviction notices were delivered after November 10.[21] On November 21, 100 campers peacefully left Snow Park after law enforcement arrived.[5]

Veterans Camp

About seven protesters with set up camp in front of the Veterans Memorial Building near the intersection of Harrison and Grand on Veterans Day, November 11. [22] They were cleared out by law enforcement on November 14. [23]

Solidarity with local Occupy movements

Occupy Oakland protesters have joined the Occupy Cal demonstrations at UC Berkeley.[24]

Incidents of alleged police misconduct

Scott Olsen head injury

Images of a wounded Scott Olsen were widely distributed in the days following the shooting.

On October 25, 2011, Scott Olsen, a former Marine and Iraq War veteran, and a member of Veterans for Peace, suffered a skull fracture caused by a projectile that witnesses believed was a tear gas or smoke canister fired by the police.[25] A video by protesters has surfaced showing the explosion of what appears to be a flash-bang device thrown by one officer near protesters attempting to aid Olsen.[26] The Associated Press later reported that it was not known exactly what kind of object had struck Olsen or who had thrown or fired it, but that protesters had been throwing rocks and bottles.[27] The Guardian reported that a projectile found near where Olsen fell was a so-called "bean bag round".[26] Olsen was rushed to the hospital by other protesters, who were fired upon with unknown police projectiles while attempting to aid him.[28][29] Doctors said that he was in critical condition. At least two other protesters were injured.[1] The American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild are calling for an investigation into the use of excessive force by Oakland police.[30] However, the investigation by the Citizens Police Review Board is expected to last several months. [31]

Olsen has been released from the hospital, and is gradually recovering from his injuries, but has difficulty speaking. On November 14, he posted a statement on a social networking site stating, "After my freedom of speech was quite literally taken from me, my speech is coming back but I've got a lot of work to do with rehab."[32] Details regarding Olsen's time in the U.S. Marines are emerging. He served two tours of duty in the Iraq War and received an administrative discharge in 2009. He later became disillusioned with the Marines and created a now-defunct web site called, "I hate the Marine Corps".[32]

News of his injury helped inspire the formation of Occupy Marines.[33]

Scott Campbell shooting

External videos
"Shot by police with rubber bullet at Occupy Oakland" Filmed by Oakland resident Scott Campbell, moments before being shot by an Oakland Police officer.

Shortly before 1am on November 3, Oakland resident Scott Campbell was shot by police using a less-lethal round while he was filming a stationary line of police in riot gear, hours after the 2011 Oakland general strike. The apparently-unprovoked shooting was documented by the resulting point-of-view video from Campbell's own camera.[34] Geoffrey Alpert, a criminal justice professor from the University of South Carolina said watching a video of the incident left him "astonished, amazed and embarrassed" and that "unless there's something we don't know, that's one of the most outrageous uses of a firearm that I've ever seen."[35]

Kayvan Sabeghi beating

External videos
"Iraq war veteran Kayvan Sabehgi beaten by a police officer"

Kayvan Sabeghi, a local business owner and former U.S. Army Ranger who served in the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan, was hit numerous times by a police officer with a baton then arrested on the evening of November 2. [36] Sabeghi was charged with resisting arrest and remaining at the scene of a riot. While in police custody, Sabeghi complained of severe pain and asked for medical treatment but was transferred to Highland Hospital 14-18 hours after his arrest. Sabeghi underwent emergency surgery for a ruptured spleen and remained in the intensive care unit. [2][36]

The organization Iraq Veterans Against the War issued a statement on November 4 stating, "police struck Sabeghi with nightsticks on his hands, shoulders, ribs and back, and that in addition to a lacerated spleen he suffered from internal bleeding" [37], a description that is corroborated by the video made available on November 18. The Oakland Police Department is "investigating the incident."[36]

Susie Cagle arrest and imprisonment

Although she was obviously wearing a press pass, Journalist Susie Cagle was arrested in the early hours of November 3 and spent 14 hours at 2 different jails. [38] She was charged with failure to leave the scene of a riot. Journalists' rights in the United States are constitutionally protected through the First Amendment. Cagle is one of several journalists covering the Occupy movement that have been arrested. [39] Additionally, Cagle reported having been subject to and witness to mistreatment of protestors during her imprisonment.[40]

November 3 traffic incident

External videos
"Protesters struck by vehicle" Footage of the incident

On November 3, a silver Mercedes-Benz driving southbound on 11th encountered a stream of protesters walking along Broadway. Two of the protesters, Margaret So and Lance Laverdure, were struck and transported to the hospital after the driver's car was surrounded and attacked by protesters. The driver was questioned by BART police and released, angering nearby witnesses who called for the driver's arrest.[41] On November 11, the two victims held a press conference alleging that the incident was a criminal act and questioned why the Oakland Police Department had not prosecuted the driver. Victims said that nine days after the incident, they still had not been contacted by police. Lance Laverdure, one of the victims, told press that "We want this person arrested for the attempted murder of myself and Margaret".[42]

Chronology of events

Weeks 1 - 4 (October 10 - November 6)

Occupy Oakland began at 4 p.m. on October 10, 2011, with a rally attended by hundreds of supporters. Occupy Oakland’s first rally, in which they occupied Frank Ogawa Plaza, was held in tandem with Indigenous People's Day, both as a statement of solidarity and an expression that this action firmly situated itself against colonialism and nation states.[citation needed] A couple dozen protesters set up tents that evening.[13]

On October 14, protesters participated in a short march during rush hour.[43] The following weekend, around 2,500 people, including actor Danny Glover, came out for a Saturday march and rally to show their support for Occupy Oakland.[44] On October 17, the three American hikers recently freed from an Iranian prison made their first West Coast speaking appearance at Occupy Oakland, drawing an audience of around 300 people.[45]

A second camp with about about two dozen people was set up on October 18 at Snow Park near Lake Merritt, primarily because the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza site was running out of room.[46]

The Alameda County Health Department visited the site on October 19, to inspect the camp. No evidence was found of a rat problem within the camp.[15] Demonstrators pointed out that violence and drug use are not uncommon in Oakland.[47][dead link]

On October 20, the City of Oakland published an official notice citing "violence, assaults, threats and intimidation", among other complaints, and, forbidding lodging overnight. In the following days, the city continued to issue daily notices of violations in the campsites.[48][49] The demonstrators "appeared determined not to leave" and countered that "the rats, drug crimes, and violence in the area of 14th Street and Broadway went unchecked before they arrived." [50]

Occupy Oakland poster announcing the October 22 march.
This file is a candidate for speedy deletion. It may be deleted after Sunday, 20 November 2011.

On October 22, protesters marched from the Plaza to Snow Park, protested outside a branch of Well Fargo, before returning to the plaza. [51]

Protesters retreating east on 14th Street toward Lake Merritt after Oakland Police attempted to disperse them from Downtown with less lethal weapons.

On October 25, 2011, following multiple violation notices from city officials, police officers in riot gear from various Bay Area law enforcement agencies cleared both camp sites during the early hours of the day.[3] Police fired tear gas canisters at the protestors, allegedly in response to objects being thrown at them.[citation needed] Protest organizers said that many of the troublemakers were not part of the Occupy movement.[52] Two MSN reporters described the raid was described as "violent and chaotic at times"[53] and resulted in over 102 arrests. The post-raid scene was described by reporters for Mercury News as looking like a "hurricane-struck refugee camp."[54] Spencer Mills rose to prominence for his live broadcast of the night's events.[55] The Snow Park camp was dismantled later in the morning. Six protesters were arrested.[3]

External videos
"Raw Video: Protesters Clash With Oakland Police." Compilation of events as Oakland Police fire tear gas and arrest protesters marching through downtown Oakland en route to Frank Ogawa Plaza.[56]
"RAW VIDEO: Ground footage of Occupy Oakland march and crowd dispersal." Demonstrators march down Broadway Blvd. and arrive at police barricades blocking entry to Frank Ogawa Plaza. Oakland Police issue warnings to disperse. Marine veteran Scott Olsen can be seen falling to the pavement at 3:15. A police officer throws a flash bang in the crowd attempting to aid Olsen at 3:30.[57]
"Occupy Oakland video: Riot police fire tear gas, flashbang grenades." Oakland police fire tear gas against marchers attempting to reoccupy Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. Scott Olsen can be seen being evacuated at :58 — 1:23.[58]

Later that day hundreds of protesters and supporters gathered in front of the main branch of the Oakland Public Library to march back to Frank H. Ogawa Plaza to reclaim the space. As the march progressed, the police fired tear gas canisters after a conflict in which protestors attempted to pass through an open police line and were hit with batons and arrested.[59] The march continued around the city for about two hours, and then moved in on the plaza. Police issued a dispersal order which failed to move the crowd, and fired tear gas, and beanbag rounds. Projectiles shot from behind police lines could be seen exploding and producing loud explosions and bright flashes among the crowd, but Oakland police have denied the use of flashbang grenades and say that these explosions came from M-80 firecrackers being thrown by protesters.[60] Protesters and reporters from The Guardian have described these explosions as looking and sounding like flash-bang devices.[61] After the ensuing panic protestors regrouped and moved in again. This time a few protestors initiated conflict by throwing a bottle across the police line,[citation needed] to which police responded again with less lethal projectile and chemical weapons including CS gas (a more potent form of tear gas).[62]

Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen suffered a skull fracture caused by a projectile that witnesses believed was a tear gas or smoke canister fired by the police.[25] He was rushed to the hospital by other protesters, who were shot at with unknown police projectiles while attempting to aid him.[28] At least two other protesters were injured.[1] The American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild are calling for an investigation into the use of excessive force by Oakland police.[30]

The Oakland Police department requested 500 officers from at least 17 other law-enforcement agencies to assist in the sweep and subsequent street skirmishes under "mutual aid" agreements. Agencies which are known to have participated include the Berkeley Police Department, San Francisco Sheriff's Department, Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, California Highway Patrol, Solano County Sheriff's Office, University of California Police Department, Alameda County Sheriff's Office, and Palo Alto Police Department.[62][63] [64]

At this point, it appears that Oakland city officials, including Mayor Jean Quan, were not aware of exactly what weapons were being used by these outside police agencies, including possibly rubber bullets (which Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan says were not used by the O.P.D.).[citation needed]

More than a thousand protesters gathered peacefully at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza on October 26, 2011. Participants in the general assembly (an open democratic meeting based on Occupy Wall Street's New York general assembly), held in the plaza's amphitheater, agreed to organize a general strike for November 2.[30] The Oakland Police Department released a statement confirming the use of so-called "bean bag rounds".[65]

At least 1,000 protesters held a candlelight vigil for Scott Olsen at Frank Ogawa Plaza.[66] The plaza was re-taken by protesters with about two dozen tents erected that evening. Mayor Jean Quan issued a statement urging non-violence and asked that there be no overnight camping; however, the city did not take steps to prevent the re-occupation.[67] Scott Olsen's medical status was upgraded from "critical" to "fair" by doctors at Highland Hospital, although surgery was still being considered in order to reduce pressure on his brain.[68] On October 30, Olsen's roommate Keith Shannon reported that doctors expect Olsen to make a full recovery.[69]

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore spoke to a crowd of about 1,000 protesters. In the hour-long address, Michael Moore encouraged Occupy Oakland by saying, "We've killed despair across the country and we've killed apathy." [70] Dozens of new tents have been erected in the plaza, including a medical tent provided and staffed by the California Nurses Association.[71] Pro-democracy protesters in Egypt marched from Cairo's Tahrir Square to the U.S. Embassy in solidarity with Occupy Oakland. [72]

Representatives of Occupy Oakland held a press conference detailing plans for the general strike on November 2.[73]

The Oakland Police Officer's Association issued an open letter to the citizens of Oakland expressing "confusion" about Mayor Quan's decision making.[74] The open letter took issue with Mayor Quan's decision to allow public employees to participate in the upcoming general strike:

[T]he Administration issued a memo on Friday, October 28th to all City workers in support of the “Stop Work” strike scheduled for Wednesday, giving all employees, except for police officers, permission to take the day off. That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against “the establishment.” But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest?

One of the marches to the Port of Oakland during the 2011 Oakland General Strike on Nov. 2, 2011

Thousands of protesters gathered at Frank Ogawa Plaza to participate in rallies, marches, and teach-ins designed to empower citizens and to draw attention to economic inequity and corporate greed as part of the 2011 Oakland General Strike. [75][76] The last general strike in the United States was in Oakland in 1946. Local unions expressed solidarity for the strike including Oakland's largest union, Service Employees International Union Local 1021, Oakland Education Association, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, and United Brotherhood of Carpenters. While none of the unions were officially on strike, many urged their members to take a personal day, vacation day or to participate after work. [77]

While most of the day-time activities were peaceful, Oakland Police chief Howard Jordan reported that a small group of "anarchists" vandalized a Whole Foods storefront, and broke windows and ATMs of Bank of America and Wells Fargo banks in the afternoon. [78] [79] Many buildings were vandalized, including some businesses that displayed signs of support for the General Strike. After the incidents of vandalism, members of Occupy Oakland organized to guard local businesses, board up broken windows, and clean graffiti caused by the black bloc vandals. Oakland mayor Jean Quan described the vandals as "a small and isolated group" that "shouldn't mar the overall impact of the demonstration and the fact that people in the 99 percent movement demonstrated peacefully and, for the most part, were productive and very peaceful."[80]

Thousands of protesters marched from Frank Ogawa Plaza to the Port of Oakland, the fifth busiest port in the United States, in two separate groups leaving the plaza at 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm. The number of protesters marching to the port has not been confirmed. While police estimate 7,000 people marched, local organizers [81] and participants [82] put the number somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000. As protesters completely filled Middle Harbor Road, the main road leading to the port, all truck traffic entering or exiting the port was halted. Port operations were "effectively shut down" a couple hours later. [83]

Later in the evening, a group of protesters took over a vacant building that once served as the headquarters of the Traveler's Aid Society, a non-profit organization that provided services to the local homeless population. Police soon arrived to break up the protesters gathered outside of the building. Some protesters fled while others set a barricade on fire. [84] Police used teargas and flash bangs to try to clear protesters. At least one man was carried away injured after protesters said he was shot in the leg by a rubber bullet. [85] Clashes continued past midnight. 103 people were arrested.

External videos
"CA Violence: RT footage from 'occupied' Oakland" Compilation of events as Oakland police begin using tear gas to disperse crowds, while protesters retreat from the police line, treat those effected by gas, break windows at nearby businesses, or provide film interviews.
"More RT footage: Riot cops tear gas Occupy Oakland strike" Further compilation of events.

Various reports of police using excessive force later emerged, including a first-person-perspective video of a protester being shot by police,[34] reports of a second Iraq war veteran hospitalized for injury sustained during arrest,[2] and a journalist who after being swept up in mass arrests with protesters, witnessed acts of police brutality.[40]

On November 5, the City Council met to consider a resolution by council member Nancy Nadel in support of the Occupy Oakland encampment. After listening to over 100 members of the public, the council postponed its vote until November 15. [86]

A downtown Oakland Wells Fargo branch closed for business because of the roughly 100 immigrant rights protesters who marched from Occupy Oakland's encampment to protest the bank's connection to companies that run immigrant detention centers. [87]

Weeks 5 - 7 (November 7 – November 27)

On November 7, Occupy Oakland accepted a $20,000 donation for urgent medical and legal expenses from Occupy Wall Street. The money was deposited into an Occupy Oakland lawyer's Wells Fargo bank account. The Occupy Oakland general assembly approved the decision to hold the money temporarily in a Wells Fargo account to be used immediately for bailing out jailed protesters. When the group's status as an unincorporated association is approved, the money will be transferred to a local credit union. This deposit was seen by some news outlets and some Occupy Oakland protesters as hypocritical because just a few days earlier, Occupy Oakland had protested against Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo spokesman Ruben Pulido said, "If this report is true, it demonstrates that even Occupy Oakland understands — firsthand — the value and service that Wells Fargo provides its customers. Wells Fargo welcomes the 100 percent of Americans to allow us to help them meet their financial needs."[88][89]

On November 9, five members of the Oakland City Council, Desley Brooks, Ignacio De La Fuente, Pat Kernighan, Libby Schaaf, Larry Reid, two dozen clergy, and Oakland business owners held a press conference calling for the immediate eviction of Occupy Oakland. The group alleged that the ongoing protest had harmed the economy of downtown Oakland, and cited reports of fire hazards in the camp. Occupy protesters interrupted the press conference by chanting, "We are the 99 percent of Oakland." The council members counter chanted: "Occupy Oakland must go." The press conference ended earlier than anticipated.[90]

Occupy Oakland poster advertising November 19 "Mass Rally & March" on 14 and Broadway, released on the Occupy Oakland website November 15.[91]

On November 10, the one-month anniversary of the Occupy Oakland demonstration, a man was fatally shot about 25 yards away from the plaza's tent encampment.[92] Occupy Oakland medics responded to the victim until the police and paramedics arrived. Initially, there were mixed reports about whether the people involved in the shooting were connected to Occupy Oakland,[92][93] and many occupiers felt that the incident had unfairly become a catalyst for their removal. Police later determined that the victim, 25-year-old Kayode Ola Foster, was indeed an Occupy Oakland participant for the previous few days, as was one of two possible murder suspects.[94][95] In response to the shooting, demonstrators observed a moment of silence, prayer, and held a candlelight vigil for the victim, led by one of the camp chaplains.[96]

November 14 - Police in riot gear[97]

In the days preceding November 14, Oakland Police delivered 'notices of violations' to Frank Ogawa plaza. In the early hours of November 14, approximately 700-1000 police were mobilized. Supporters began arriving, and and a line of union workers wearing white arm bands formed a line to observe and mediate if necessary.[22] At approximately 4:30 AM, police entered the plaza. Police initially made about 20 arrests, 14 of whom had been praying all night in the camp’s inter faith tent.[22] Afterwards, police demolished the camp.

Dan Siegel, Mayor Jean Quan's city hall Legal Adviser, resigned in protest, announcing, via Facebook: "No longer Mayor Quan's legal adviser. Resigned at 2 am. Support Occupy Oakland, not the 1% and its government facilitators."[22] That same day, Oakland Deputy Mayor Sharon Cornu resigned her post as well.[22]

On November 15, the Occupy Oakland website released a flyer and information about a planned "Mass Rally & March" through Oakland due to take place November 19[91] to "expand the Occupy Movement". The website states the flyer was created in response to calls by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly convened on 11.11.11.[91]

On the morning of November 21 the last Occupy camp at Snow Park was dismantled by the city. The roughly 100 protestors left behind nearly 21 truckloads of debris. The movement was left with no physical presence occupying any public space overnight in the city of Oakland. [5]

See also

References

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  33. ^ Jon R. Anderson, “‘Occupy‘ protests lure vets”, Marine Corps Times, 18 November 2011
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