Yesterday's general strike in Oakland -- which shut down the port -- ended in a late-night violent (and costly) scene in downtown with fires, arrests, and injuries.
It started at about 11 p.m., when a group of masked vandals began smashing windows and set blazes throughout downtown. Police quickly descended on the chaos, spraying tear gas and tossing flashbang grenades, attempting to disperse the crowds. There were dozens of arrests and at least three protesters were hospitalized, according to media reports.
Most protesters had gone home, and the downtown festivities had died down when the vandals arrived, taking over a vacant building on 16th and Broadway.
Up until then, you couldn't spot a police officer throughout the flurry of protests all day; police were following Mayor Jean Quan's orders to keep their distance and allow the Occupy Oakland protest to continue with minimal police presence. But by midnight, hundreds of officers had moved into downtown, ordering the crowd to leave. The Chron reports that another confrontation happened at San Pablo Avenue and Broadway, where there were fights between protesters and officers, which ended in mass arrests and injuries.
The chaos occurred after a daylong strike, for which teachers, students, and average workers gathered in downtown Oakland where the Occupy Oakland movement has been staged for nearly a month. After several rallies -- which included blocking bank entrances -- thousands of protesters marched several miles to the Port of Oakland, where they blocked all gates and terminals, keeping trucks from leaving. Port officials issued a statement at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, announcing the Port had closed.
According to the Port:
Maritime operations will not resume until it is safe and secure to do so. Our hope is that the workday can resume tomorrow and that Port workers will be allowed to get to their jobs without incident. Continued missed shifts represent economic hardship for maritime workers, truckers, and their families, as well as lost jobs and lost tax revenue for our region.
Protesters were already gathering again at the Port of Oakland this morning -- we shall see what today brings.
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