The Occupy Oakland protests took a chaotic turn on Saturday night, when more than 400 anti-Wall Street protesters were arrested in Oakland, during a night of skirmishes in which police fired tear gas, bean bag projectiles, and flash-bang grenades, marking one of the biggest mass arrests since nationwide economic protests began last year.
It was a hectic day of protesting, and the first clash between protesters and police since November, when Oakland police forcefully dismantled an Occupy encampment. It came just days after the group said it planned to use a vacant building as a social center and political hub and threatened to try to shut down the port, occupy the airport, and take over City Hall.
The group assembled outside City Hall late Saturday morning and marched through the streets, disrupting traffic as they threatened to take over the vacant Henry Kaiser Convention Center.
The protesters walked to the vacant convention center, where some started tearing down perimeter fencing and “destroying construction equipment” shortly before 3 p.m., police said.
Police then issued a dispersal order and fired tear gas, smoke grenades, bean bag bullets, and flash-bang grenades to disperse crowds, as some protesters pelted them with bottles, rocks, burning flares and other objects.
The number of demonstrators swelled as the day wore on, with afternoon estimates ranging from about 1,000 to 2,000 people.
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.
At some point, many protesters forced their way into City Hall, where they burned flags, broke an electrical box, smashed display cases, and damaged several art exhibits .
After the chaos had ended on Saturday night, police had arrested over 400 protesters. Following the protesters’ invasion of City Hall, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who came under fire for the heavy police action taken back in November, continued to decry the Oakland protests.
“This particular faction of Occupy … they’re very violent and I’m going to be asking for a lot more mutual aid,” Quan said. “They are hurting the neighborhoods by continuing to do this on Saturday nights.”
Oakland police say that a few of their officers suffered minor injuries, but reports from the protesters tell a different story. On the movement’s Twitter feed, Occupy activists say that more than a dozen protesters suffered burns and other injuries after being struck by flash bang grenades.
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.”
Oakland has become an unlikely flashpoint of the national “Occupy” protests against economic inequality that began last year in New York’s financial district and have spread to dozens of cities across the country.
Protests focused on Oakland after a former Marine, Scott Olsen, 24, was critically injured during a demonstration in October. Protesters said he was hit in the head by a tear gas canister but authorities have never said exactly how he was hurt. The injury resulted in a fractured skull and brain swelling.
THE SOROS WARNING
“The collapse of the Soviet system was a pretty extraordinary event, and we are currently experiencing something similar in the developed world, without fully realizing what’s happening… the worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”
“Economic and social divisions will deepen. As anger rises, riots in the streets of American cities are inevitable… Yes, yes, yes… it’s already started.”
” It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.”
HAS GEORGE SOROS BEEN FUNDING OCCUPY WALL STREET?
I’ve explored this topic at length and the conclusion I came to was “No” — at least officially and for the most part. Unofficially and off the books, who can say.
There is an official connection there but it’s tenuous: it seems the Occupy Wall Street movement was kicked-off by an Ad Busters media campaign, and Ad Busters had received grants from The Tides Foundation, which had in turn recieved some funding through Soros.
So have Soros dollars made their way into the OWS movement? Maybe. But probably not. At least not officially and in this case. And all four entities: Soros, OWS, Ad Busters, and The Tides Foundation, have publicly denied Soros funding ever being applied directly to OWS, or even the Ad Busters media campaign. But you see the ties here. These guys are all singing in the same choir, so they have a relationship, however loose…