'Occupy Oakland' protesters, police standoff

Occupy protesters sit in a building they've occupied in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
November 3, 2011 3:36:51 AM PDT
Thousands of 'Occupy Wall Street' protesters peacefully marched in the streets of Oakland on Wednesday picketing banks and disrupting operations at the nation's fifth-busiest port. Around 10:30 p.m. a group of a couple hundred protesters went into the Travelers Aid building to occupy it. For a while the crowd danced in the streets outside the building and used large dumpsters to block the road leading to the building on Telegraph and 16th, near Frank Ogawa Plaza and hung a banner saying, "Occupy Everything." Around 3:30 a.m. the protesters decided to peacefully head back to their camp at Frank Ogawa Plaza and back away from the police line.

At 11:45 p.m., we started to receive reports via Twitter that police were moving in on protesters at the Travelers Aid building that occupiers took over. If you have any photos or video of Downtown Oakland, please send them to us at: uReport@kgo-tv.com.

Bay City News reported that tear gas was deployed on an Occupy Oakland crowd marching through downtown Oakland early this morning.

The area near Broadway and 14th Street, Frank Ogawa Plaza has been declared an unlawful assembly and people have been asked to clear the plaza by police in riot gear just before 1:15 a.m.

Several arrests have been made as the crowd refuses to disperse.

Smoke grenades were thrown into the plaza away from where the encampment stands.

One man appeared to be knocked unconscious by a possible rubber bullet and was carried into the camp to be treated by a camp medic.

There was a tense confrontation between law authorities and a few hundred protesters near 17th Street and Telegraph Avenue around midnight after what the Occupy Oakland Twitter account said was a reopening of a foreclosed building at 520 16th St. late Wednesday night.

Protesters set several dumpsters on fire as a barricade to block police near 17th and Broadway. Other people have smashed windows along Broadway, as police push the crowd toward Frank Ogawa Plaza.

The crowd chanted, "These streets are our streets."

The Occupy Oakland Twitter feed had asked protesters Wednesday night, "If you can, come to support the space and prevent police takeover."

Throughout the day, events related to the strike remained peaceful, with the main disruptions being to traffic around downtown Oakland as protesters marched through the streets. The police say there were 7,000 at the height of the march.

Demonstrators as well as city and business leaders expressed optimism that the widely anticipated "general strike" would be a peaceful event for a city that became a rallying point last week after an Iraq War veteran was injured in clashes between protesters and police.

The protest did get rowdy at several points during the afternoon. Several banks were vandalized and a window at one Bank of America branch was shattered. Protesters also vandalized a Whole Foods after a rumor spread the the grocery store had threatened to fire employees who particiapted in the strike. Whole Foods denies making any such threats and tweeted that "Team Members were told to attend if they wanted to."

There did seem to be conflict between the protesters over the vandalism. A different group of protesters could be seen cleaning graffiti off a Wells Fargo branch and a skirmish broke out at the Whole Foods as some protesters tried to stop others from vandalizing the store. A police spokesperson confirmed that five businesses were vandalized throughout the day.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Interim Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said no arrests had been made.

Protest disrupts Port of Oakland

Protesters began marching towards the Port of Oakland around 4 p.m. Work in the maritime area of the port was effectively halted around around 5 p.m. as thousands of protesters blocked trucks from entering the port along Middle Harbor Road.

Organizers say they want to halt "the flow of capital" at the port. Protesters could be seen sitting on top of trucks and in the middle of the street.

Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said its members were not being called to strike. The union cannot sanction a strike in support of Occupy Oakland under the terms of its contract, he said.

"The general message is that the ILWU and other unions are supporting the concerns raised by Occupy Oakland and the Occupy movement to speak up for the 99 percent and against the corporate greed that is wrecking America," Merrilees said.

Police were present at the port Wednesday evening but they stood and watched as the protesters marched by.

Protesters struck by car

Two protesters were injured Wednesday evening after being struck by a car at the intersection of 11th Street and Broadway. The driver of the car reportedly had become frustrated by the protesters marching in the street and had tried to drive through the crowd. The first person sustained multiple injuries from the initial hit and the second person's leg was injured after the car backed into her.

Video of the incident appears to show the protester slapping the hood of the Mercedes just before being hit.

One of the victims was transported from the scene by ambulance. Both victims sustained non life-threatening injuries.

The driver was allowed to leave the scene after being interviewed by police.

Unions participate in strike

Nurse, teacher and other worker unions took part in the protests, and Oakland is letting city workers use vacation or other paid time to take part in the general strike. About 5 percent of city workers took the day off Wednesday, according to City Administrator Deanna Santana.

About 360 Oakland teachers didn't show up for work, or roughly 18 percent of the district's 2,000 teachers, said Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint. The district has been able to get substitute teachers for most classrooms, and where that wasn't possible children were sent to other classrooms, he said.

Wednesday evening, union members from SEIU and the California Nurses Association could be seen marching in the crowd towards the Port of Oakland. City officials estimate that about 4,500 people participated in the day's various events but by late afternoon, the crowd was estimated to have grown by several thousand more. At one point the crowd was estimated to be as large as 10,000.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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