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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.

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One officer at the scene, who declined to be named, told Reuters police had no plans to clear the encampment for the moment.

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On Wednesday evening, an official said maritime operations at the Oakland port, which handles about $39 billion a year in imports and exports, had been "effectively shut down."

Protesters, who streamed across a freeway overpass to gather in front of the port gates, had stood atop tractor-trailers stopped in the middle of the street.

Others climbed onto scaffolding over railroad tracks as a band played a version of the Led Zeppelin song "Whole Lotta Love," using amplifiers powered by stationary bike generators.

"Maritime area operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so," the port said in a statement. A port spokesman said officials hoped to reopen the facility on Thursday morning.

The atmosphere at the protests turned tense well before police moved in when a protester was apparently struck by a car in downtown Oakland. Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan later said the pedestrian was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Small groups were later seen in local TV images running through the streets, trying to start small fires or climbing on top of moving television news vans.

At one point, several people appeared to force open the driver's-side door of a news van, but after a few tense moments the door closed again and the van drove away safely.

Windows were smashed at several Oakland banks and a Whole Foods market, with pictures of the damage posted on Twitter. Jordan blamed the vandalism and unruliness on a small group he identified as anarchists.

The demonstrations centered at Frank Ogawa Plaza, scene of a tug-of-war last week between police who cleared an Occupy Oakland encampment there and protesters who sought to return, and ultimately succeeded in doing so.

Protesters, prior to marching on the port, had also blocked the downtown intersection of 14th street and Broadway, where ex-Marine Scott Olsen was wounded during a clash with police on the night of October 25.

It was the wounding of Olsen, a former Marine turned peace activist who suffered a serious head injury during protests last week, that seemed to galvanize protesters and broadened their complaints to include police brutality.

He remains in an Oakland hospital in fair condition.

Protest organizers say Olsen, 24, was struck by a tear gas canister fired by police. Jordan opened an investigation into the incident but has not said how he believes Olsen was hurt.

(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb, Mary Slosson, Steve Gorman, Emmett Berg, Matthew Ward, Bill Rigby and R.T. Watson; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jerry Norton and Cynthia Johnston)

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