A mostly peaceful, daylong protest in Oakland yesterday took a turn for the chaotic around midnight. Protesters donned masks and took to the streets. They vandalized buildings with graffiti, shattered windows of storefronts and set random fires, which continued until Oakland Police used tear gas and flash-bang grenades to disperse the crowds and make arrests.
Dozens of people participated in the vandalism and pillaging, while hundreds of others looked on. When a group of demonstrators set a fire at 16th and Broadway that raged fifteen feet high, at least 500 people were put in danger. The pinnacle of the day’s efforts was a general strike of labor workers, including teachers, and when thousands of Occupiers marched on the Port of Oakland, completely shutting it down.
Were the peaceful demonstrations undercut by the violent, criminal activity that took place later in the night? Will Occupy movements elsewhere respond by calling for more general strikes locally or nationally? The vandalism and fires took place within blocks of Occupy Oakland’s headquarters; will law enforcement officials crack down preemptively in other cities to prevent anything like this from happening? Is this an isolated incident, or a harbinger of things to come?
Gene Maddaus, Staff Writer, LA Weekly
Will Weldon, Comedian who supports the Occupy movement and participated in a comedy show at OccupyLA
Frank Newport, Editor in Chief, Gallup, author of "Winning the White House 2008: The Gallup Poll," "Public Opinion and the Presidency," and "Polling Matters: Why Leaders Must Listen to the Wisdom of the People."
Christine Kelly, Professor of Political Science, William Paterson University