A long day of mostly peaceful protest in Oakland descended into chaos after midnight, says the San Francisco Chronicle. Masked vandals shattered windows, set fires, and plastered downtown businesses with graffiti before police moved in, dispersing crowds with tear gas and flash-bang grenades and making mass arrests. The street clashes – which hospitalized three protesters and left several officers with minor injuries – happened near Occupy Oakland’s tent city in a plaza outside City Hall, which had been the center of yesterday’s “general strike.”
That event peaked when thousands of people angry at economic inequality marched to the Port of Oakland, shutting it down. Most of those people had gone home by 11 p.m., when dozens of protesters took over a vacant 2-story building two blocks from the encampment. Hundreds of others looked on as protesters barricaded the block at both ends with wooden pallets, trash cans, tables, and tires. They hung banners from the building’s roof, spray painted its exterior and chanted, “Whose street, our street!” One group of protesters broke cement blocks into baseball-size rocks. Just after midnight, police ordered the crowd to disperse as an “unlawful assembly.” One officer was struck on his face shield by a bottle, disorienting him. Within a minute, officers began to launch flash-bang grenades and tear gas canisters. Protesters scattered and a fire crew put out the blaze.