Around midnight on Wednesday, confrontation flared between Occupy Oakland protesters and police officers near Telegraph, Broadway and 17th streets. A generally peaceful day of protests in which as many as 10,000 participated in what organizers called a “general strike” ended with clouds of tear gas, burning barricades and loud banging sounds.
Occupy Oakland’s planned day of action included marches, rallies and music performances that began around 8:30 am and culminated around 6 pm with a march to the Port of Oakland that resulted in the port being peacefully shut down. There were no arrests during the day although several instances of vandalism at banks were reported.
After night fell, crowds returned to Frank Ogawa Plaza where people peacefully gathered in the streets for several hours without noticeable police presence.
At 10:30 pm, press released issued by the city’s Emergency Operations Center said that the Oakland Police Department had identified a “small group of anarchists that are roaming through the crowds.”
“OPD is focused on preventing illegal activity while affording the majority their rights to assemble and march,” the release said.
As the night grew longer, a small group of protesters began to build barricades. Around 11:50 pm, OPD vans pulled up at San Pablo and 17th Street, where protesters had built a barricade made of Dumpsters and wooden pallets. Forty- six police officers in riot gear came out of the vans and lined up at the intersection. Minutes later, police officers alerted protesters at the 1500 and 1600 blocks of Telegraph and Broadway to move south, or chemicals agents would be used against them and they would also be arrested. Shortly afterwards, the first cloud of tear gas spread throughout the streets.
At 12:06, police officers started marching on 17th Street towards Broadway. Officers seen in the area belonged to the OPD, as well as to sheriffs’ departments from Alameda and San Mateo Counties, and the Hayward Police Department. Protesters were repeatedly warned to disperse, and loud explosions, flashes and lights could be heard and seen from Telegraph Avenue near 16th Street.
Around 12:30 two windows and a glass door were smashed at the police recruitment office near Frank Ogawa Plaza. On the glass-littered sidewalk in front of the building, “Fuck you pigs” was spray painted in large orange letters.
Shortly afterward, a man who was taking photographs of a police line was shot with a small black projectile from a distance of about 20 feet. He limped to a corner of the plaza and sat down, while other protesters knelt to help him.
Officers approached a group of journalists, including two photographers, a TV reporter and an Oakland North reporter, and told them they would be arrested if they didn’t leave the area. Protesters were again warned to disperse.
As of 1:45 am Thursday morning, Oakland North reporters observed that between 60 and 90 protesters had been arrested.
Oakland North is signing off for the night and will resume coverage on Thursday.
You can see Oakland North’s complete coverage of Occupy Oakland here.
Reporters Adam Grossberg, Rachel Waldholz, Amina Waheed, Mariel Waloff, Ryan Phillips, Dylan Bergeson, Byrhonda Lyons and Monica Cruz-Rosas contributed to this report and took these photos. Slideshow assembled by Karmah Elmusa.