Lingering Oakland protesters were dispersed by police on Thursday with tear gas to prevent the expansion of the protesters’ foothold. What the police called an unlawful assembly was a generally peaceful rally by demonstrators against economic inequality and police brutality. They said the financial system is only for the benefit of corporations and the rich. Over 200 officers who wore gas masks fired volleys of tear gas at the protesters who fled for safety. Some activists said their assembly was peaceful until the police came. Using batons and tear gas, officers forced protesters into the square’s center where the protesters re-assembled. They were also there a week ago in a make-shift encampment.
This was the latest of protests in Oakland following a clash last week where former Marine Scott Olsen was injured in a clash with police on Oct. 25. The protests were part of a nationwide anti-Wall Street rally which badly affected the busy Port of Oakland. However, the protests failed to shut the city. About 60 protesters were arrested while some were injured. Adam Konner from Ann Arbor, Michigan heard police barking at campers to move back to their tents before a police officer arrested him after knocking him down to the ground. But the police force maintained that they have no plans of driving the protesters out of their encampment.
Oakland Port’s operations dealing with about $39 billion yearly in imports was shut down said a maritime official on Wednesday. Protesters gathered in front of the port gates were up on top of tractor-trailers while some were up on scaffolding along railroad tracks. A port spokesman said they hope to have the port reopen on Thursday. The tension began when police moved in after a car hit a protester in downtown Oakland. The local television showed images of small groups attempting to start fires while some climbed on top of the television news vans. In downtown, windows of Oakland banks and Whole Foods market were smashed by those identified as anarchists.
Last week, Frank Ogawa Plaza became the center of struggle between protesters and police who forced out an Occupy Oakland encampment. Protesters later returned, blocked downtown intersection on 14th street and Broadway before marching towards the port. When Olsen suffered a serious head injury after the clash with police, protesters included police brutality in their grievances. Olsen is still in the hospital.
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