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May Day Protests In Oakland And San Francisco: Bay Area Marked By Occupy Marches And Tear Gas (PHOTOS, VIDEO, LIVE UPDATES)

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Robin Wilkey
Robin Wilkey

UPDATE: The May Day protests escalated in Oakland throughout the night, leading to 23 arrests including one for suspicion of felony assault on a peace officer. At about 9:30 p.m., a police car was set on fire. In San Francisco, about 200 protesters fought with police at the occupied building at Turk and Gough Streets. One man, Jesse Nesbitt, was arrested and booked for felony aggravated assault of a peace officer for allegedly throwing bricks from a rooftop at officers on the ground below. SFPD reported that Nesbitt instead struck a protester. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, another man, who threw pipes from a similar vantage point, damaging a police car, was not found. According to KGO, about two dozen people were taken into custody as the building was cleared on Wednesday morning.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Thousands 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.


The crowd settled following the altercation, gathering at Frank Ogawa Plaza (the site of the Occupy Oakland encampment last fall). Organizers circled the crowd with petitions to recall Mayor Jean Quan.

At around 1:30 p.m., protesters again clashed with police, this time at 14th and Clay Streets. Officers again dispersed tear gas, and the Alameda Sheriff's Department brought in a tank to control the crowd. Protesters pushed against the police line, chanting, "We are not afraid."

Among the protesters was Scott Olsen, the 25-year-old Iraq war veteran who was critically injured by a police projectile on October 25. At Tuesday's protest, Olsen wore a black helmet to protect his head.

"I shouldn't have to wear a helmet to go out like this, but I do," he told Mother Jones's Gavin Aronsen. Olsen explained that he is getting better but that he's still "not alright." (Aronsen himself made headlines after he was arrested while covering an earlier Occupy protest.)

"I think today is going to be a real testing day for Occupy," Olsen told Mother Jones. "I don't think people have given up on it. They're afraid to come out for several reasons."

At 3 p.m., protesters gathered at the Fruitvale BART Station, the site of the infamous 2009 Oscar Grant shooting, for the March for Dignity and Resistance. At the time of publication, a crowd of several hundred was marching from Fruitvale BART to Frank Ogawa Plaza for a 6 p.m. rally.

The protests were a part of a national May Day general strike organized by Occupiers, laborers and immigration activists. Similar demonstrations occurred in Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, Austin and other cities. Thousands gathered for an enormous protest in New York.

Meanwhile, across the bridge in San Francisco, the general strike actions on the ground remained largely peaceful and marked by coordination between desperate groups.

Chants of "Si se puede" echoed from outside the 24th Street BART Station, where around 200 people gathered at 10 a.m. for a pro-immigration march. While only blocks away from Valencia Street corridor, where a group of vandals broke off from a pre-General Strike rally last night and attacked the storefronts of 30 local businesses, the Tuesday morning action was uniformly peaceful. Dozens of police officers surrounded the crowd as it marched north along Mission Street toward the 16th Street BART Station.

Protesters nibbled on pastries, provided free of charge from a local bakery, and carried a puppet depicting a vampire squid, a term coined by Rolling Stone columnist Matt Taibbi to describe powerful investment firm Goldman Sachs.

Later that morning, a similarly-sized crowd of union workers and labor activists gathered in front of the Westfield San Francisco Centre to protest a labor fight between janitors and retail workers and the mall's management.

"What is the middle class in the middle of?" a union leader asked into a megaphone as he leaned over the edge of a pickup truck parked in the front of the mall. "A class war," he answered. Just then, a firetruck drove by and honked its horn, presumably in solidarity with the picketers. The crowd erupted in cheers.

A few blocks away, a considerably smaller group gathered at the intersection of Market and Montgomery Streets, blocking traffic for over an hour. A band played union anthems and people distributed t-shirts and free books while protesters held aloft a giant cut-out of a guy in a business suit in front of the headquarters of banking giant Wells Fargo. The immigration protestors from the Mission and the labor activists from the mall both converged on the intersection, instantly tripling the size of the crowd.

Unlike their Oakland counterparts, San Francisco police did not attempt to remove the crowd from the intersection.

By 2 p.m., the combined crowd was on the march once again, this time heading up Market Street and camping out for about a half hour in the middle of the busiest intersection in all of San Francisco, Market and Van Ness Avenue. Eventually, the crowd started moving again, up Van Ness with a turn down Turk Street, until it stopped in front of a building near the intersection of Turk and Gough Street.

Activists streamed into the abandoned building, owned by the Archdoises of San Francisco and occupied by the organization earlier this year, proclaiming it the new "SF Commune."

Police initially surrounded the building but backed off after a few minutes. No violence or major property damage has yet been reported on the San Francisco side of the Bay.

Check out photos and videos from San Francisco and Oakland protests, as well as a video tour of the occupied San Francisco building, below:

San Francisco May Day General Strike
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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/

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-- Photos by Brandon Bowlin/

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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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