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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sign in Smashed Oakland Bank Window: "We Are Better Than This"

Posted By on Thu, Nov 3, 2011 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger

We've seen many moving, inspiring, and upsetting images from yesterday's general strike in Oakland, but none that seems to capture it all as well as this shot from Kate Conger, SF Weekly's street-fashion maven and all-around good egg. Below are more of Conger's photos, as well as her report of a day that started so promisingly -- and a night that ended so sadly.

  • Kate Conger

Yesterday, Occupy Oakland held a General Strike, calling on all workers and students to

walk out, "to help shut down the city." Crowds gathered at the Occupy Oakland campsite

in Frank Ogawa Plaza (renamed Oscar Grant Plaza by its occupiers) throughout the

day to hear speeches, listen to music, eat the free food being doled out, and explore the


Over the course of the day, five separate marches departed from the plaza; one around

10:00 AM, one at noon, one at 2:00 PM, one at 4:00 PM, and a final one at 5:00 PM.

The destinations varied, but included most major banks in the area, as well as the State

Offices on Clay Street, the Whole Foods on Harrison, and the University of California

Offices on Franklin Street.

The first two marches were accompanied by a bicycle escort, who rode slightly ahead

of the protesters, stopping traffic so that they could march through the intersections.

No police presence was observed and the marches remained peaceful.

Over the course of both marches, the downtown offices of Wells Fargo and Citibank and the Lake Merritt offices of Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America were temporarily closed by protestors who sat down in front of doors to prevent anyone from entering. At 20th and Webster, two demonstrators scaled light posts to hang a banner reading "Occupy the Banks."

The third march, at 2:00 PM, was slated as the Anti-Capitalist march. As the day wore

on, many labeled these marchers as "anarchists" and blamed them for inciting the police

later in the evening, when the tear gassing began. This march was the only one during

which we observed acts of vandalism, graffiti and window breaking. Unlike the other

marches, the majority of these protestors wore black scarves and bandanas over their

faces and carried makeshift black flags.

This march visited Chase, City National Bank, Whole Foods, Bank of America, the University of California offices, and the downtown Wells Fargo, smashing windows, hurling paint balloons, and spray painting. Windows were also broken at Dryclean Time, a small business housed in the City National Bank building. Violence broke out within the group as some members rushed buildings and others tried to prevent them.

The scene at Whole Foods:


When the march reached the University of California Offices, a standoff occurred between protestors. Two unmasked men stood in front of the doors, one of them holding up his hands in peace signs, as a group of roughly 30 masked protestors hurled paint on them and threatened them. Inside the building, a group of police officers was visible, taking cell phone footage of the crowd.

The defenders:

  • Kate Conger

Next: An interview with the protesters who defended the building

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About The Author

Kate Conger

Kate Conger has written for SF Weekly since 2011.


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