riot gear
Police in riot gear clashed with Oakland OWS protestors Wednesday. Image: tedeytan/Flickr/CC BY-SA

The Port of Oakland was shut down Wednesday by Occupy Wall Street protestors. Later, the demonstration became violent  when protestors clashed with police in riot gear. Dozens of arrests were made. At least four protestors were hospitalized.

Port shut down

Oakland, Calif., is the nation’s fifth largest sea port. Thousands of protestors converged on the harbor area Wednesday, blocking streets with cars and make-shift fences. The protestors succeeded in shutting the port down for nearly five hours.

Demonstration becomes violent

The protest turned, in the words of one protestor, “from having a peaceful movement to now just chaos.”

A group of about 100 protestors, mostly male, broke off from the main group and moved through downtown Oakland setting fires and spray-painting graffiti. The protestors set up camp in a vacant building and started a large bonfire in the middle of a street. Then police in riot gear moved in. According to police, the protestors also threw chunks of concrete and Molotov cocktails, prompting the use of tear gas and “flash bang” grenades.

“Dozens of protesters wielding shields were surrounded and arrested,” police said in a statement.

Four protestors hospitalized

The standoff lasted until the wee hours of the morning.  At least four protestors were hospitalized with injuries requiring stitches and other medical attention. Several police officers were also hurt, though none were hospitalized.

The OWS movement

The Occupy Wall Street movement began in New York on Sept. 17, and has since spread to many cities across the nation. The movement contends that the 1 percent of “super rich” control the nation and its resources and are unresponsive to the needs and  wants of the other 99 percent.

The movement has been peaceful for the most part, but tensions have been escalating since Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old former Iraq war vet, was injured in a skirmish between protestors and the police in Oakland last week.

In solidarity

While the protest raged in Oakland, other sympathetic rallies were staged in Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and other cities. In the New York rally, about 100 combat veterans lined up in front of the New York Stock Exchange. One of the protesting veterans, Jerry Bordeleau, said:

“We are marching to express support for our brother, Scott Olsen, who was injured in Oakland.”

Mayor takes heat

Oakland mayor Jean Quan, who has expressed support for the movement, has taken heat for sending in the police at last week’s rally that led to Olsen’s skull being fractured.

The Port of Oakland reopened Thursday.


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