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Protesters gather in East Oakland park for planned evening march downtown

on May 1, 2012

More than 1,000 people congregated in San Antonio Park in East Oakland on 5:30 pm Tuesday, waiting to march back to Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall as Occupy Oakland May Day protests continued into the evening.

Oakland police have arrested four people today during Occupy Oakland May Day protests, OPD chief Howard Jordan said at a late afternoon press conference.

Jordan also confirmed tear gas was used to disperse protesters, but declined to say when. As observed by ON reporters, Tear gas was in the air near the intersection of Broadway and 14th Street when police tried to clear protesters from the intersection shortly after 12:30 pm. Jordan also said that other area departments have aided in policing the protests Tuesday, including from cities Hayward, Fremont and Newark, and the California Highway Patrol.

While many protesters left the intersection after the dispersal order, many stayed. At around 3 pm, police officers told protesters in the intersection that they were gathered there illegally, and began marching down the street to clear it of people. Broadway remained blocked to traffic by police between 13th and 15th Streets until close to 3:30 pm.

Meanwhile, a group of protesters in the plaza made their way to the steps of City Hall, where the entrance was being blocked by California Highway Patrol officers. A group of about 300 then began marching from Frank Ogawa Plaza towards the Fruitvale BART station to convene with another march that was planned to leave Fruitvale for downtown Oakland.

The protesters leaving Frank Ogawa Plaza walked down 14th Street toward Lake Merritt. When they reached the construction site at the lake, some people dressed in black grabbed the large orange traffic cones marking the construction area and moved them into the street to block traffic. Protesters walked through the middle of traffic as cars blared horns—some in support, others seemingly in disgust at being trapped in traffic. People who live along the route, which went down International Boulevard and Foothill Boulevard, came outside to watch the crowd pass by. The march eventually paused at San Antonio Park after 4 pm.

At about 4 pm, another march left the Fruitvale BART station, with protesters chanting, “What do you want? Justice! When do you want it? Now!” They walked toward San Antonio Park at 18th Avenue and Foothill Boulevard to join the march from Frank Ogawa Plaza. Many in the crowd were speaking Spanish, and some waved signs that read “Dignity and justice have no border” and “Capitalism can’t be fixed—we need revolution.”

“We are here today to protest the injustice in the immigration system that targets our few families,” said Megan Santos of Oakland as she marched with the group from Fruitvale BART. “They deserve the right to equal education and health care.”

The two groups, numbering more than 1,000 once they had merged, remained in the park as of 5:15 pm, waiting to march back to Frank Ogawa Plaza, unsure of what would come next.

“I assume we’re headed back downtown,” Oakland resident Milo Alvero said as the crowd waited in San Antonio Park.

Reporting by Ryan Phillips, Wendi Jonassen, Anne-Sophie Braendlin, Byrhonda Lyons, Spencer Whitney, and Thomas Kleinveld.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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