Tense May Day for Occupy Oakland, police

Across The Bay, Occupy Oakland demonstrators rallied along with Occupy San Francisco May 1 in a day of protest, demanding better opportunities and prosperity for workers.

Protesters gathered around City Hall in the morning, with police calling for mutual aid from police in surrounding areas by 9 a.m.

By the early afternoon, protesters and police had their first of a series of clashes that would take place throughout the day.

In Fruitvale, another protest was occurring as the group Dignity and Resistance organized a gathering outside of Fruitvale BART to support immigrant rights.

The group planned on marching downtown, but later changed its tactic as Occupy protesters began merging with the group at San Antonio Park on Foothill Blvd.

Gentrification was also an issue at the Occupy rally around City Hall, with protesters like William Hastings voicing concerns about the inequities in low-income neighborhoods:

“The city of Oakland has pushed lower-income folks out of this area. The city is spending money trying to enrich this area, whereas people in these other neighborhoods can’t get basic things fixed, like potholes.”

Elements of Tuesday’s protests remained mostly peaceful as many protesters tried to avoid confrontation or even left flowers at the feet of police.

But aggressive groups within the crowds led Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan to characterize Tuesday’s protests as a lot more aggressive than usual. 23 people were arrested on a day characterized by many scuffles with police and demonstrators.

The first of these encounters began around 12:15 p.m., with protesters throwing plastic bottles at police. Some broke the windows of an unmarked police van and TV news van.

A bit after 2 p.m., 200 protesters confronted police in riot gear at 14th and Clay. The scene grew tense as demonstrators surrounded an unmarked police car with an Oakland captain inside. Protesters hit the car until it was driven away.

And at 8:30 p.m., the final clash ensued when protesters hit police with bottles when they attempted to arrest a man.

An Oakland man who refused to tell the Chron his name said violence exhibited by protesters pales in comparison to violence by police:

“Any violence by the people is minuscule compared to the violence of the state. Martin Luther King wouldn’t have had a mediating power if not for the militant influence of Malcolm X. When people in Egypt fight back, Americans cheer. But when it happens here they call it violence and condemn it.”

Other demonstrators, like UC Berkeley student Amanda Young, 38, said they deplored the vandalism:

“I feel like the way to get the public to listen to what we have to say is to find commonalities. When the cops beat us down, the public might just listen. But when there are broken windows and vandalism, the public says to themselves, ‘What a bunch of idiots.'”