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Oakland protesters march in act of civil disobedience

For the second night in a row, protesters gathered in downtown Oakland Sunday to denounce the city’s enforcement of a regulation requiring permits for nighttime demonstrations.

Police arrested four people and cited and then released 19 others.

Police said officers used force in two instances but did not describe the tactics officers used. The demonstration follows a similar protest on Saturday in which five people were arrested and 47 people were issued citations, according to police.

On Sunday, protesters began gathering around 8 p.m. at Frank Ogawa Plaza, located at the corner of 14th Street and Broadway.

According to a Facebook post advertising the event, the march was expected to include singing, praying, meditation and drum circles.

Katie Loncke, a member of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and an organizer of the event, which was sponsored by an interfaith congregation, said the demonstration was a rejection of Mayor Libby Schaaf’s decision to enforce an existing city regulation that prohibits demonstrations without permits after sunset. She’s been involved with the black lives matter movement and organizing that dates back to the fatal shooting by police of Oakland resident Oscar Grant in 2009, she said.

Loncke said the group sees the curfew as a “completely absurd” and immoral:

“From my understanding there’s no time allotment for First Amendment rights.”

After a demonstration Thursday, Schaaf denied in a statement that any “curfew” has been instituted:

“There has been no change to any city policy, or enactment of any new ordinances designed to prohibit peaceful protests, but we are making better use of existing policy provisions and laws to prevent vandalism and violence.”

On Thursday, members of the black lives matter movement gathered in Frank Ogawa Plaza in solidarity with a national call to action to condemn violence against black women and transgender people, according to Cat Brooks, a member of the ONYX Organizing Committee and the Anti-Police Terror Project.

Brooks said police forced protesters off the streets and appeared to be enforcing a ban on nighttime protests.

Protesters began meeting around 7 p.m. on Thursday and started marching around 8 p.m., according to police. After night fell, police said officers began ushering demonstrators off the streets and onto the sidewalks.

“We are under the impression that this is illegal, violating the crowd’s right to organize,” Brooks said.

On Friday, members of the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area chapter said they were “disturbed” by the city’s enforcement of the regulation and called the actions unconstitutional:

“The NLGSF believes such preemptive restrictions on protest are both unconstitutional, and in violation of (the Oakland Police Department’s) own crowd control policy, which was adopted as part of the federal court settlement orders in NLG litigation over 2010 mass arrests of Justice for Oscar Grant protesters and 2011 police attacks on Occupy Oakland.”

In response, demonstrators gathered on Saturday to condemn the newly enforced rules, according to protesters and police. A group of roughly 40 to 50 demonstrators sat down in the middle of the street Saturday in an act of civil disobedience.

Police said officers repeatedly ordered demonstrators to move off of the streets and to walk on the sidewalks.

In each of the demonstrations on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, police said there were no reports of any vandalism or injuries.

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