Occupy Oakland protesters shut down one of the nation’s busiest shipping ports, vandalizing businesses and smashing bank windows.
Occupy Oakland demonstrators blocked operations at the city’s port and blocked traffic on Wednesday in demonstrations against economic inequality and police brutality and marred by scattered vandalism.
There were reports saying that the group declared victory after managing to close down the city’s port, US’s fifth busiest , after an evening of mayhem on the streets.
Two protesters, a man and a woman, were injured as a Mercedes Benz struck them as they blocked the roadway.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the driver of the Mercedes was questioned by police and permitted to leave, much to the ire of protesters.
The protest by some 5,000 people fell short of paralyzing the northern California city that was catapulted to the forefront of national anti-Wall Street protests after an Iraq war veteran was badly wounded during a march and rally last week.
According to officials, only around 5% of city workers took the day off work.
Perhaps frustrated at their inability to disrupt city business, Occupy Oakland protesters on the second march of the day turned violent, smashing windows at a Chase bank branch a few blocks from the city’s downtown.
Graffiti was also painted on the bank. Employees tried in vain to close up the broken windows with boards and other materials, while one private security guard looked on helpless.
Several windows at a Wells Fargo branch were also smashed. The bank’s front sign and its ATM was smeared with graffiti.
A separate group of protesters attacked Wholefoods smashing windows and throwing paint on the storefront.
The word “strike” was painted in large letters across the Wholefood store’s front windows shortly before 03:00 p.m., an employee at a 7-Eleven across told NBC.
Helicopter video above the scene showed black-clad Occupy Oakland protesters attacking the store and forcing it to shut early.
The Occupy Oakland movement’s leaders called the violent demonstrators “anarchists” and said they were not part of the movement.
Meanwhile, several buses filled up with protesters as they geared up to disrupt operations at the port.
The day’s events in Oakland had begun with a rally outside City Hall that drew more than 3,000 people who spilled into the streets and disrupted the downtown commute.
Occupy Oakland protesters hung a large black banner that read: “Occupy Everything, DEATH TO CAPITALISM.”
The crowd included students, families with young children and many people wearing labour union T-shirts. “Shut down the 1 percent. We are the 99 percent,” the protesters chanted.
Oakland let city workers use vacation or other paid time to take part, but only about 5% took the day off.
Earlier protesters broke off from the rally to picket at nearby banks. All three banks located within blocks of the plaza were closed, though that didn’t stop protesters from chanting and waving signs outside.
At a Citibank branch, more than a dozen protesters blocked the entrance, some with fake $100 bills taped across their faces. They held signs with messages such as “Share the Billions with the Millions.”
About 200 people chanted outside a Wells Fargo branch, where graffiti was scrawled on the wall. The messages read “The 1 percent won’t back down” and “Who’s robbing who?”
Further away from the rally, vandals shattered a Chase bank branch and splattered ink all over an ATM. Someone later taped a note to the shattered glass that read: “We are better than this. … Sorry, the 99 percent.”
In front of the Oakland Public Library, about three dozen parents brought toddlers and school-age children for a stroller march in a “children’s brigade.”
Occupy Oakland protesters handed out signs written as if in a children’s crayon that read “Generation 99% Occupying Our Future”. People attached the signs to their baby backpacks and their strollers.