Police Crack Down on May Day in Oakland: Photos & Video
The city of Oakland was overrun with police forces from multiple jurisdictions on Tuesday in response to a global day of pro-labor actions and a general strike. The Oakland Police department along with sheriffs & police forces from neighboring cities, the department of homeland security, and the highway patrol cracked down on gatherings in the city using a variety of intimidation techniques.
The day began peaceful like most actions do, but once the police showed up in large numbers the mood quickly began to shift. In the early afternoon police had already declared an unlawful assembly on 14th street near city hall when a small group of protesters confronted the overbearing authoritarian forces. Tear gas was used in an attempt to clear the area after police arrested “Wildebeast,” who happened to be within snatching distance of an officer who threw him to the ground for no particular reason.
Soon after, an estimated 5,000 people marched from San Antonio park where a large Occupy Oakland group met up with a couple thousand immigrant rights protesters marching for “dignity & resistance.” The mass group walked back downtown and regrouped at Oscar Grant Plaza near city hall. Shortly after the permit had expired, police began resorting to their “reformed crowd control techniques” which included various forms of intimidation and violence.
Rather than detaining large groups of protesters and making mass arrests, police opted to silence dissent with snatch and grab teams who seemed to target people at random for arrest. A young woman was targeted and thrown off her bike before police fired tear gas and flash bangs to discourage fellow protesters from running to her aid. Others shared the same fate as police lunged at individuals who were simply walking down the street or talking with friends on the sidewalk. Police seemed to be making arrests based on thought crimes, as none of the arrestees I personaly know actually comitted any acts of vandalism or participated in unlawful activity.
As night fell, the police stepped up their intimidation tactics and would not allow any groups to assemble in the city. The city’s plan seemed to be to simply shut down and deny the right to gather in Oakland, at least for the night of May 1st. A couple hours after the main group was dispersed, about 100-150 people reemerged at 14/Broadway. Police used loud speakers to ask that people leave the area before a couple dozen motorcycle police showed up blaring their lights and sirens at protesters on the sidewalks. Using their bikes as intimidation weapons, police began to rev their engines and lunge towards dispersing protesters.
By the end of the night 39 people had been arrested, 27 on suspicion of “willfully delaying or obstructing law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties,” seven on suspicion of “failing to disperse an area declared an unlawful assembly,” and others on suspicion of robbery, battery, violating a restraining order, vandalism, and possession of an incendiary device.
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