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Occupy Oakland damage assessed after protesters break into City Hall

Officials assessed damage to City Hall caused by Occupy Oakland protesters while leaders of the movement claimed Sunday that police acted illegally in arresting hundreds of demonstrators.

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A majority of the arrests came after police took scores of protesters into custody as they marched through the city's downtown, with some entering a YMCA building, said Sgt. Jeff Thomason, a police spokesman.

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Quan said that at one point, many protesters forced their way into City Hall, where they burned flags, broke an electrical box and damaged several art structures, including a recycled art exhibit created by children.

Dozens of officers surrounded City Hall, while others swept the inside of the building looking for protesters who had broken into the building, then ran out of the building with American flags before officers arrived.

The protest group issued an email criticizing police, saying "Occupy Oakland's building occupation, an act of constitutionally protected civil disobedience was disrupted by a brutal police response today."

Michael Davis, 32, who is originally from Ohio and was in the Occupy movement in Cincinnati, said Saturday was a very hectic day that originally started off calm but escalated when police began using "flash bangs, tear gas, smoke grenades and bean bags."

"What could've been handled differently is the way the Oakland police came at us," Davis said. "We were peaceful."

City leaders joined Quan in criticizing the protesters.

"City Hall is closed for the weekend. There is no excuse for behavior we've witnessed this evening," City Council President Larry Reid said during a news briefing Saturday.

Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, echoed Reid's sentiments and said that what was going on amounts to "domestic terrorism."

The national Occupy Wall Street movement, which denounces corporate excess and economic inequality, began in New York City in the fall but has been largely dormant lately.

Oakland, New York and Los Angeles were among the cities with the largest and most vocal Occupy protests early on. The demonstrations ebbed after those cities used force to move out hundreds of demonstrators who had set up tent cities.

In Oakland, the police department received heavy criticism for using force to break up earlier protests. Quan was among the critics, but on Saturday, she seemed to have changed her tune.

"Our officers have been very measured," Quan said. "Were there some mistakes made? There may be…. But quite frankly, a majority of protesters who were charging the police were clearly not being peaceful."

Earlier this month, a court-appointed monitor submitted a report to a federal judge that included "serious concerns" about the department's handling of the Occupy protests.

Jordan said late Saturday that he was in "close contact" with the federal monitor during the protests.

Quan added, "If the demonstrators think that because we are working more closely with the monitor now that we won't do what we have to do to uphold the law and try keep people safe in this city, they're wrong."

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