The clashes began just before 3 p.m. when protesters marched toward the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, the police said, and began to tear down construction barricades. Officers ordered the crowd to disperse when protesters “began destroying construction equipment and fencing,” the Oakland police said in a press release.
“Officers were pelted with bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares, the police said.” Officers responded with smoke, tear gas and beanbag projectiles. Twenty people were arrested.
Most of the arrests occurred in the evening, when large groups of people were corralled in front of the Downtown Oakland Y.M.C.A. on Broadway. At one point, one group of protesters broke into the City Hall building.
On a livestream broadcast on the Web site oakfosho.com, dozens of protesters could be seen sitting cross-legged in darkness on the street in front of the Y.M.C.A. Their hands appeared to be bound behind them, while police officers stood watch. Occasionally the protesters sang or cheered.
The events were part of a demonstration dubbed “Move-in Day,” a plan by protesters to move into the vacant convention center and use it as a commune-like command center, according to the Web site occupyoaklandmoveinday.org.
“We were going to set up a community center,” said Benjamin Phillips, 32, a member of the Occupy Oakland media team. “It would be a place where we could house people, feed people, do all the things that we have been doing.”
In an open letter to Mayor Jean Quan on the Move-in Day site, the group threatened actions like “blockading the airport indefinitely, occupying City Hall indefinitely” and “shutting down the Oakland ports.” Occupy protesters did briefly shut down the city’s busy port in November.
In a statement issued before the march, Ms. Quan said that “the residents of Oakland are wearying of the constant focus and cost to our city.” On Saturday night, she added: “Once again, a violent splinter group of the Occupy Movement is engaging in violent actions against Oakland. The Bay Area Occupy Movement has got to stop using Oakland as their playground.”
In a statement, city officials said the total number of arrests was estimated at 200.
Ms. Quan has spent her first term embattled by the Occupy movement, which installed itself in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in October. After initially embracing the protest, she ordered the encampment removed from the plaza.
After a series of violent episodes, including a clash in which a Marine veteran of Iraq suffered a fractured skull when struck by a projectile in a confrontation with the police, Ms. Quan relented and permitted the protesters to return to the plaza. But two weeks later, in response to fears of renewed violence, she ordered the plaza cleared again.
Mr. Phillips, who said he is a veteran of the United States Air Force, spoke Saturday night from his home on Grand Avenue where he had stopped to rinse tear-gas residue from his contact lenses. He described the scene in front of the Y.M.C.A. as “terrifying.”
“This is disgusting, because this is not the way that America is supposed to work,” he said. “You’re supposed to be able to have something like freedom to assemble and air your grievances,” he said.
“It’s bizarre,” he said of the police reaction. “It’s not something you expect to see in the United States, and we’ve seen it over and over in Oakland.”
Link to original article: New York Times