Occupy Oakland: Tear gas, arrests in early morning violence
Occupy Oakland turned violent early Thursday morning as police corralled Occupy Oakland protesters in Frank Ogawa Plaza. Some 60 arrests were made.
Police in riot gear clashed with protesters in Oakland on Thursday, firing tear gas to disperse demonstrators lingering in the streets after a day of mostly peaceful rallies against economic inequality and police brutality.Skip to next paragraph
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The confrontation, which erupted after midnight, appeared aimed at preventing the protesters from expanding their foothold in the streets around a public plaza that has become a hub for demonstrations in the largely working-class city on the eastern banks of San Francisco Bay.
More than 200 officers, some ferried downtown aboard buses, lined up shoulder to shoulder and donned gas masks, then declared the crowd to be an "unlawful assembly" and fired volleys of tear gas as protesters turned and ran.
A few activists paused to pick up canisters and hurl them back at officers as they fled, while others threw rocks. One barricade was set ablaze after the police first advanced.
"This was peaceful until you came!" some protesters shouted at police. Police later charged toward protesters with batons and more tear gas to push them farther into center of the square, where activists have reassembled a make-shift encampment forcibly dismantled by authorities last week.
The latest unrest in Oakland, which shot to the forefront of nationwide anti-Wall Street protests after a former Marine was badly injured in last week's clashes, followed a day of rallies that drew some 5,000 activists at their peak and shuttered the busy Port of Oakland but failed to grind the city to a halt.
At least one protester was carried away with an injury to his leg. Another who had been arrested, his hands bound behind him, lay on the ground with blood streaming down his face.
Police estimated around 60 protesters had been arrested. Dozens of them were lined up seated along a street curb in plastic wrist restraints as they waited to be taken away.
One of them, Adam Konner, 29, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said he heard a police announcement ordering "campers to move back to your tents," before police advanced again.
"I was trying to figure what they were saying. I was trying to figure out if I could go back into the plaza," he told Reuters. He said he was suddenly confronted by police who knocked him to the ground and placed him under arrest.
The anti-Wall Street activists, protesting a financial system they believe benefits mainly corporations and the wealthy, had set out on Wednesday to disrupt commerce with a focus on banks and other symbols of corporate America.
But a police force that had largely kept its distance during the day ended up in a tense stand-off as most of the protesters had retreated to Frank Ogawa Plaza, the large outdoor square next to City Hall that has been the fulcrum of the so-called Occupy Oakland movement.