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Mayors deny colluding on 'Occupy' crackdowns

Eleven mayors participated in a Nov. 10 conference call about "Occupy" protests in their cities, but they deny their talk was a strategy session to coordinate the sweeping of demonstrators' encampments
/ Source: msnbc.com

Eleven mayors participated in a conference call last week about "Occupy" protests in their cities, but they deny their talk was a strategy session to coordinate the sweeping of demonstrators' encampments.

"It was more like a therapy session," Amy Ruiz, spokesman for Portland, Ore., Mayor Sam Adams, told msnbc.com on Tuesday about the Nov. 10 call.

Portland was one of at least five cities where over the next four days after the call police moved in on anti-Wall Street camps. Others included Denver, Salt Lake City, Oakland and New York.

The call was organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which said 11 mayors participated but the records of who called were not immediately available.

Another "conversation" about Occupy Wall Street was held in early October, the Denver mayor's office told NBC station KUSA.

"The conversation was focused on general information-sharing and best practices surrounding the challenges and opportunities this unique situation presents to every city," Amber Miller told KUSA.

On Tuesday, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan's acknowledgement of talks brought charges of anti-Occupy collusion among mayors from a variety of watchdogs, including broadcaster RT and progressive blog Firedoglake.

A sign calling for the ouster of Oakland's Mayor Quan is seen taped to a tent at the Occupy Oakland encampment Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011, in Oakland, Calif. Oakland is bracing for Wednesday's citywide general strike, a hastily planned and ambitious action called by Occupy protesters a day after police forcibly removed their City Hall encampment last week. The union representing Oakland's police officers, who had a violent clash with Occupy Wall Street protesters last week, has written an open letter to residents, pointing out that the officers are also part of \"the 99 percent.\" The letter also questions the mayor's decision to give city workers the day off to participate in a Wednesday strike that seeks to shut down the Port of Oakland. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)Ben Margot / AP

"If you thought the recent crackdowns of Occupy encampments across the country was more than a coincidence, there is a good chance you were right," an article on RT.com said, citing the interview with Quan.

"I was recently on a conference call with 18 cities across the country who had the same situation," Quan told the BBC, which shared the audio tape with the radio show "The Takeaway," which also raised the cooperation question. "What had started as a political movement and a political encampment ended up being an encampment that was no longer in control of the people who started them."

It was unclear which conference call Quan was referring to.

Quan said the Occupy movement is looking for more stability, separation from anarchist groups and private spaces in which to operate.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan speaks during a news conference about the eviction of the Occupy Oakland campsite in Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, California on November 14, 2011. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)Beck Diefenbach / X02805

Ruiz said mayors on the Nov. 10 conference call merely traded notes about what was going on with Occupy protests. News of an overdose in Vancouver, British Columbia, and a hit-and-run in Washington, D.C., were among the topics.

The mayors also noted that in each of their cities residents were asking about endgames and timelines, of which there were none, Ruiz said.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors says it schedules calls more than once a month but less than weekly so city leaders can discuss issues or whatever is on their minds, organizers said. Email invitations are sent to members, who are free to phone in or ignore the calls.

Regarding the Nov. 10 meeting, the mayors talked about protesters during a round-robin discussion after a short business agenda, the group said.

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