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NYPD, FBI Raid Occupy Wall Street Protesters' Homes In Anticipation Potentially Violent May Day

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The NYPD has kept a close eye on the Occupy Wall Street's May Day protest plans.

Click here for latest updates.

A six page memo (see below) from the NYPD's Shield unit reveals the department is concerned over "political fissures" in the movement which they believe could lead to violence Tuesday.

From the memo:

Political fissures that are present within the OWS movement may impact the strategies of demonstrators during individual protest actions; in particular, the Wildcat March is not an officially sanctioned OWS march and may attract militant elements from inside and outside the OWS movement that may seek to directly confront law enforcement officials using barricades, riot shields, and possibly weapons such as pipes and rocks.

(For a full schedule of May Day's permitted and not permitted events, go here.)

In anticipation Monday, the FBI and NYPD raided the homes of protesters.

"There were a number of visits between 6:00 and 7:30 in the morning and at other points in the day that appeared to target people that primarily the NYPD, but in one instance the FBI, wanted to ask certain questions to," Gideon Oliver, a spokesman for the National Lawyers Guild, which often represents Occupy protesters, told Buzzfeed. "Questions included things like 'what are your May Day plans?' 'Do you know who the protest leaders are?' 'What do you know about the May Day protests?' and such."

Gawker reports that Zachary Dempster said 6 officers broke down the door of his Bushwick apartment at 6:15 AM, reportedly executing a warrant for the arrest of his roommate on a 6-year-old open container charge. Dempster believes, however, that cops used the raid as an excuse to question him about May Day.

And an hour later in Bed-Stuy, one of Dempster's activist friends' apartment--which he shares with 6 other Occupy protesters-- was also paid a visit by 6 of New York's finest. From Gawker:

The activist said police used arrest warrants for two men who no longer lived there as pretext for the raid. The officers ran the IDs of everyone who was in the apartment, then booked our source when they discovered he had an outstanding open container violation. Police never asked about Occupy Wall Street or May Day, but our source said the message was clear: We're watching you.

“We’re experienced at accommodating lawful protests and responding appropriately to anyone who engages in unlawful activity, and we’re prepared to do both,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told Bloomberg.

The NYPD trained for the protests on Randall's Island this weekend, preparing for one of their busiest days this year. As Salon notes, "Conveniently, New York will see increased security and police vigilance on May 1, following warnings from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security about potential terror risks on the anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s death."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday at a press conference about preparing for the protests, "We will do what we normally do and find the right balance."

Bloomberg also questioned the point of the protests. “If you want to change things, I don’t know what protesting does,” he said, according to CBS. “Why not try to go out and do something and make it better. Help kids get a better education. Start a business. There’s a lot of ways that you can volunteer and help make this city better and this country better.”

Touted as a "day without the 99 percent," Occupy organizers hope to disrupt New Yorker's morning commutes before a day of actions that will culminate in a solidarity march from Union Square at 4PM, down to Wall Street.

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Twenty-five people were arrested on May 1 during the Occupy Oakland demonstrations, the City of Oakland reported. Although a complete breakdown of the arrests is not currently available, at least one person was detained for assaulting a police officer. Two others face felony arson arrests (one of the suspected arsonists allegedly set a police vehicle on fire).

Incidents of vandalism were reported at three banks. The windows of an Oakland Police Department van were broken and the tires of one news media vehicle were also punctured.

Public Works crews are now trying to clean up the damage and restore the city before daybreak.

-- Jade Walker

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As thousands of people streamed down Broadway into Lower Manhattan, they faced a choice: go home to their apartments or stick around to see what happened next. Many -- including almost all the union members and immigrant rights' activists, it seemed -- chose the former. The younger demonstrators who remained, many of them clad in black, headed to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza.

By 9 p.m., perhaps a thousand protesters were gathered in the small park. "This park officially closes at 10 p.m. Some of us will stay here indefinitely," one speaker announced over the human microphone. The goal was nothing short of re-occupation.

As the hour wore on, people sat and chatted and something of a General Assembly occurred. (Occupy Wall Street hasn't had one of those gatherings since March.) Shortly after 10 p.m., a police officer on a bullhorn announced that anyone who stayed would be arrested. Most of those assembled complied with police orders. A few -- reportedly from Veterans for Peace and Occupy Faith -- stayed on, willing to be arrested.

Hundreds streamed into the night, some getting on subway trains and others engaging in a cat-and-mouse game with the police through the Financial District's narrow streets. The Huffington Post witnessed several arrestees loaded into a police van at Hanover Square, including one of a man wearing an Oakland Athletic's baseball cap.

By the end, a few hundred protesters gathered in Zuccotti Park to wind down a successful day's gathering and relive old times. In the city host to the A's, meanwhile, the night was only getting started.

-- Matt Sledge

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Business Week reports that the men charged with plotting to blow up a bridge had only vague associations with Occupy Cleveland. Although they had attended Occupy events in the past, FBI spokesperson Vicki Anderson told the publication that there was no link between the alleged bomb conspiracy and the Occupy group.

"This was not an Occupy movement plot," she said. "They were individuals that formed their own group to conspire."

The men allegedly felt that the Occupy movement didn't go far enough and were considering a hospital or a cargo ship as possible targets.

USA Today reported: "What sets the alleged Ohio operation apart is its link to self-proclaimed anarchists -- with no connections to international terrorist organizations -- who believed that members of the ubiquitous Occupy protest movement had not gone far enough to express their displeasure with high-flying corporate America."

-- Jason Cherkis

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-- Photos by Brandon Bowlin/thedarkroome.com

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-- Photos by Brandon Bowlin/thedarkroome.com

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Protesters smashed windows at a Wells Fargo bank branch and Starbucks store in Seattle on May Day, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. The Wells Fargo Center in downtown Seattle "had the feel of a building about to be under siege, but not just yet."

You can view a slideshow of the Seattle protest here, from the Puget Sound Business Journal.

--Bonnie Kavoussi

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--From Lakewood (Ohio) Patch:

Brandon Baxter

The former Lakewood resident was arrested a few times as a juvenile — including a September 2009 incident when he was arrested for allegedly stabbing a family member with a knife. Lakewood police charged him with aggravated attempted murder, but the outcome of the case is not available as juvenile court records were sealed. As an adult, Baxter -- whom acquaintances told Patch was intelligent, quiet and strange -- was charged with criminal trespassing in 2010, stemming from an incident at Lakewood Park.

Anthony Hayne

With a criminal history that stretches back to 2000, Hayne's record is littered with charges of theft, drugs and receiving stolen property. Hayne was most recently found guilty of breaking and entering in November 2011. In that case, he was sentenced to probation.

Joshua Stafford

In August 2010, Stafford pleaded guilty to charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor; giving false information to a police officer; and possession of drug paraphernalia. In Lorain County, he also was charged with criminal trespassing, theft and receiving stolen property and attempted breaking and entering.

-- Colin McEwen

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-- Photo submitted by Occupy activist Joan Donovan.

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Occupy Miami blames police for the arrest of 3 May Day protestors, including a live-streamer accused of assaulting an officer. In a statement, the group said police prompted a skirmish by becoming overly agressive while providing what an Miami Police Department incident report termed "safe escort":

Miami police escalated what was a peaceful protest by pulling three individuals out of the crowd of 100 in front of the Wells Fargo and beating them with fists and batons. They also punched our live stream media in the face and nearly broke his phone...

While the protestors had not instigated any problems the police and been escalating the action towards violence for most of the march by running cars and bicycles into the peaceful marchers.

Occupiers are now holding a candlelight vigil outside the jail to protest the arrests. Get the full story, at HuffPost Miami.

-- Janie Campbell

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Police appear to be ready to make a move against the protesters at 55 Water street. The NYCLU reports: "NYPD on bullhorn saying that park is closed, you will have few minutes to leave, if you refuse you will be arrested."

Reporter Matt Sledge says that "Police lining up around edge of Vietnam vets, speaker says 'know that this decision is your own.'"

Another Twitter user reports, "Several NYPD vans just rolled up to 55 Water. Very scary sight."

-- Jonah Green

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The Huffington Post's Robin Wilkey and Aaron Sankin report:

Hundreds of protesters flooded the streets of San Francisco and Oakland on Tuesday as part of the nationwide May Day general strike organized largely by Occupy Wall Street.

In Oakland, a crowd marched down Broadway at noon, closing the thoroughfare to downtown traffic. But protesters quickly clashed with police.

The situation escalated when officers attempted to lead a patrol wagon onto the scene to make arrests. Protesters surrounded the vehicle, prompting police to deploy tear gas and flash bang grenades to disperse the crowd. Officers made several arrests, and Occupy Oakland organizer Boots Riley tweeted that one woman was sent to the hospital for a head injury allegedly inflicted by authorities.

Read the whole story here.

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@ macfathom : The 99% bat-signal is projecting onto the building north of the park. (Lighting isn't optimal, so no picture.) #m1nyc

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The police officer throws the grenade without warning or provocation at around the 1:26 mark:

Video also available here.

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Head over to HuffPost New York for more photos of the day's events.

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Thousands of protesters at 55 Water St in downtown NYC. Live stream reporter Tim Pool says that, according to multiple sources, protesters will attempt to reoccupy downtown, "and this is the site of the new occupation."

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@ JoshuaHol : Protester on roof throwing objects at police. Officers trying to get a shot w teargas. #M1GS #osf

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@ JoshuaHol : Protester on roof throwing objects at police. Officers trying to get a shot w teargas. #M1GS #osf

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@ OccupySeattle : #occupyseattle #m1gs has shut down 3rd ave at pike

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@ lizpelly : The #funeralforcapitalism is about to proceed down Newbury Street... #m1gs #m1gsbos #Mayday

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Via Twitter user @mollycrabapple:

Crowd and cops still, staring at eachother #m1ny #ows on Twitpic

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You can watch it here.

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In New York City, the march has reached the Financial District -- but it apparently won't be going onto Wall Street itself. Stefan Ringel, a spokesman for New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, relayed to HuffPost that "Wall Street is completely blocked, with two to three lines (of officers)."

Mounted police are also keeping an eye on the scene, and perched on the corner, according to Ringel: NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne himself.

"They got the top brass standing there," Ringel said.

-- Matt Sledge

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A spokesperson for Sergeant Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association in New York City, sent out an email on Monday saying the sergeant would be "available to speak about tomorrow’s protest and the effect of OWS protesters getting involved during May Day."

The Huffington Post took the bait: In the sergeant's opinion, what were the potential effects of OWS protestors getting involved during May Day?

"The truth of it is it really doesn't matter," said Mullins, a member of the New York City police force for over 30 years. "They're gonna get involved in a protest, big deal. If you don't pay attention to them it won't be an issue. This is a group that stays around and protests and protests and protests and I don't know why we keep paying attention to them.

Mullins was asked if he objected to protests on principle.

"This country has been based on protests," he said. "Everybody wants better wages, we all do."

So why did he suggest ignoring Occupy Wall Street?

"The Occupy Wall Street people in my opinion serve no purpose other than disrupting society in terms of disrupting pedestrian traffic, causing injuries and generating arrests and spending millions of dollars in taxpayers money," Mullins said.

"What was the point of that protest?" he asked, referring to the Zuccotti Park encampment and the other high-profile demonstrations of the fall.

It was suggested that the point was to raise awareness of the growing inequality between rich and poor, among other things.

"Did that happen?" the sergeant asked.

It was suggested that it did.

"I just don't see the organization to them," he said.

--Saki Knafo

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After a slow start Tuesday morning, Occupy Wall Street successfully massed thousands of people under sunny weather in New York's Union Square Park. By 6 p.m. ET, they were streaming in the thousands down Broadway for a permitted march to the Financial District. A full range of the groups Occupy has brought under its umbrella, from labor unions to immigrant workers' groups to anarchists, was on display.

At the head of the march: a cabbie named Beresford Simmons.

"I'm an independent contractor," he said. "To take a day just to do this, I'm really losing a lot of money. Anything for the workers."

Simmons and other members of the Taxi Workers Alliance had affixed signs demanding disability insurance for their colleagues. Simmons' poster, however, was a little more simple: "Union Power."

Behind him, the march snaked down Broadway for more than a dozen blocks. A wild assortment of protesters from bike brigades to "Tax Dodgers" in baseball uniforms, fronted by a cheerleader with a "Loopholes" hula hoop, made the street come alive like a carnival.

At the rear of the procession, Alejandra Ospina was shuttling down Broadway in her wheelchair. A member of Occupy Wall Street's disability caucus, she is concerned that if the economy doesn't improve, there will be more cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid that people like her partner rely on.

"I don't know what protesting will do," Ospina said. "But if we don't try, we'll die."

--Matt Sledge

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@ LuddoftheFuture : I think my previous crowd estimates were wayy low. Now hearing our march is at least 16 blocks long, and it's at least 1000 per block. #M1GS

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@ mtracey : Best chant: "NYPD, keep your hands off me. I sag my pants -- I rock my hoodie." Great cadence. #M1GS

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Via HuffPost Los Angeles:

Joe Moller, executive director of Downtown LA Artwalk, found himself one block away from the May Day action. Moller walked out of his office and spent some time taking pictures of the protesters who had gathered below his building. He told HuffPost, "Regardless of which side of the percentage sign you land on, experiencing the political action of these groups is impressive and important. Everyone should be paying attention."

All photos by Joe Moller

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The Alameda County Sheriff deploys a tank to control the crowd at Occupy Oakland.

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HuffPost reader Nick Brown sends in these photos. The march is heading to the financial district, tensions are high, he says.

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May Day Event Advisory Bulletin-04!27!12

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