The Oakland general strike called by Occupy Oakland drew thousands Wednesday for rallies and marches. The mostly peaceful event turned chaotic early Thursday after protesters took over a vacant building and police moved in, firing tear gas and flashbang grenades.
7 a.m. Protesters' blockade prevents truckers from entering Port of Oakland
Fences and dumpsters dragged across the roadway at 3rd and Adeline streets are preventing trucks and other vehicles from entering the port this morning. About a dozen protesters have had some scuffles with truckers.
Monique Agnew got in front of a truck with a camper shell that was forced its way in. When it charged, she hit it with asign she was carrying.
She said she has been there for several hours.
"These people tried to kill us. I can't believe they are being that aggressive over a paycheck, over your own people fighting for you."
Most trucks are just turning around and going back the other way, down Middle Harbor Road.
One big rig is having trouble turning around, though, since it can't turn around because the street is too narrow.
3:30 a.m.: Protesters call it a night
Organizer Mario Fernandez, 27, got on a megaphone, performed the customary mic check to get the crowd's attention and said: "It's late. I feel that we should go back to camp for a 3:30 a.m. rally."
But they are not rallying. It was a joke. They're going to bed.
A handful of determined strikers were sent to the picket line at Third and Adeline in the remains of an effort to keep the Port of Oakland closed.
About 15 protesters remain near the police line, which is still about 200 strong. But, police, too are beginning to leave.
-- Sean Maher
3:28 a.m. Protest has mostly ended
Only a handful of protesters remain, with a few sitting in front of a line of police on Broadway. Those who remain say they are committed to peace and will not antagonize the officers.
3:12 a.m. Crowd continues to dwindle, but some action continues
There's probably only 100 protesters left. The helicopter is back overhead. An ambulance is arriving.
The crowd has continued to thin out, however the police helicopter has turned on its spotlight.
2:50 a.m. Calm settles in
Action is winding down.
At the police line on Broadway, a man plays "Blitzkrieg Bop" on a mandolin.
2:49 a.m. Riot police begin to disperse
Some of the riot police are
The fire department arrived to put out trash fires on by BART station at 13th and Broadway.
Earlier, a man walked by pushing a bicycle yelling, "Police are not our enemy!"
2:35 a.m. Crowd's energy is waning
The front line of the protest is mostly quiet, although some protesters continue to yell. Police aren't moving. Drums continue in the camp, but the crowd's energy is waning. Chanting has all but ceased.
2:10 a.m. Injured man is taken away in ambulance
After protesters called for help several times, an ambulance finally arrived to take away the injured man.
Graham Holoch, a student at the California college of the arts in Oakland, was a volunteer medic who tended to the man, using medical supplies he brought in a backpack.
"When we got him on the stretcher," he said, "his vitals were pretty shaky."
Holoch said he believed the man had been shot in the knee with a rubber bullet and gassed.
His friends called the man's relatives and his pastor.
"He seems fine, but it's definitely better to get him medical attention," said Holoch, who is also a photographer.
As paramedics carried the man to the ambulance, a bruise could be seen on his knee.
Before leaving, one paramedic told the volunteer medics: "By the way, we do support what you're doing."
-- Sandy Kleffman
2 a.m. Dozens arrested
Interim police chief Howard Jordan says between 30 and 40 people have been arrested in downtown Oakland, although he could not provide an exact number.
Police have also reclaimed the Traveler's Aid building, as he said protesters were preparing to light the building on fire.
Meanwhile at the camp, about 150 protesters continue to beat drums and chant while others are sweeping up -- getting ready for bed and trying to tidy up a little.
-- Sean Maher
1:53 a.m. Protesters seek help for man they believe was hit with a rubber bullet
Some protesters said they believe the injured man was hit by a rubber bullet. About eight or nine people carried him on a stretcher to 14th and Franklin, hoping to remove him from an area where they fear more tear gas could be coming soon, in the wake of the police order to disperse.
With no ambulance in sight, protesters tried to enlist help from a police officer, but he just drove away.
Some said the rubber bullet may have hit a metal pin in the man's knee, from a previous injury. This was not confirmed, however.
They are trying to call an ambulance.
-- Sandy Kleffman
1:42 a.m. Police order dispersal on Broadway, protester is injured
The police just gave a dispersal order to break up "unlawful assembly" on Broadway between 14th and 15th.
A protester has been hit by an unknown object. Volunteer medics are tending to him.
It's unclear if police are trying to clear out the camp or if they are just trying to push people back into it.
-- Paul Rosynsky
1:11 Police appear ready to take the camp
At Frank Ogawa Plaza on the edge of the "Occupy" camp, there are some reports that police have unleashed tear gas and are moving in from two sides.
However, at 14th and Broadway, there no evidence of tear gas in the plaza. Yet, even from this vantage point, police do appear to be preparing to take the camp.
Inside the camp, protesters are tending to someone with a leg injury. It's unclear the extent of the injury or how it was caused.
12:54 a.m. Tensions mount near camp
Protesters calling for no violence shouted down by chants of, "Whose streets? Our streets!"
Sheriff's department has brought two prison transport buses onto Broadway.
Someone in all black just painted on a wall: "Until the last capitalist is hung by the entrails of the last bureaucrat."
There are people playing guitar, a ukulele and fiddle leading people in song, dancing near the police line.
-- Thomas Peele
12:43 a.m. Police converge near camp
There is a police line near the camp at the plaza.
So far, it appears to be a standoff. Neither protesters nor deputies are moving.
Protesters are cleaning up, pulling garbage cans back out of the street
Crowd facing sheriff's deputies at 15th has grown, but remains passive.
It appears that it would only take a couple bottles or rocks for this situation to explode again.
-- Thomas Peele
12:26 a.m. Police move in on protesters, peaceful demonstrators saddened
Police are moving in on both sides of protesters who are gathered in 16th Street, shooting tear gas.
No people are in the building. Swarms of people are leaving the area.
Several people with the Occupy movement are very disheartened by this. Watching from the outskirts, they said they were very sad and kind of angry that this was happening.
Police are reporting no injuries to officers and say some protesters were using homemade bomb launchers to fire M80s at police. They are believed to be some of the same vandals that trashed Whole Foods.
-- Paul T. Rosynsky and Sean Maher
12:22 a.m. General strike retreats, fire doused
The general strike has fallen back to 14th and 15th at Broadway, near camp.
The fire appears to be doused.
12:14 a.m. Fire truck arrives; explosions fill the air
A fire truck has arrived to douse the burning barricade and the protest has devolved into a chaotic scene with witnesses reporting explosions and panicked people running down the streets.
One reporter said the explosions are from protesters throwing fireworks on the fire, but others report flash bangs and tear gas. A police officer said protesters were throwing M80s.
Police have given a dispersal order.
Midnight. Police converge on occupied building
Law enforcement officers formed a line on San Pablo at 17th Street outside the building and and put on gas masks. There was a loud bang, followed by smoke on Broadway.
The barricade made by protesters on Broadway and 16th is on fire and the police have made a dispersal order over loudspeakers with a bullhorn. About 100 police are on scene and more are arriving.
They are surrounding the building.
Mayor Quan wants the protesters to call her. She has given them her phone number.
Police said protesters are throwing rocks at officers. Tear gas is flying.
11:59 p.m. Reports of tear gas deployed on Broadway
Multiple reports of tear gas on Broadway, as police mass at 17th and Broadway. Barricades the protester set up are burning and the building seems abandoned.
11:51 p.m. Quan wants to talk to protesters
Mayor Jean Quan wants protesters who've taken over the Traveler's Aid building to call her at 510-238-3141 to discuss turning the building over and returning it to the Traveler's Aid Society, said deputy mayor Sharon Cornu.
Quan has read the note protesters are distributing and wants to talk to them.
11:32 p.m. Some parts of Oakland very calm
Up Telegraph toward Temescal the city was eerily quiet.
Pizzaoila was shut in solidarity, while places like Lanesplitter Pizza were jammed with folks.
Meanwhile, many California Highway Patrol officers were milling about their headquarters on Telegraph.
11:29 p.m. Police in riot gear organizing four blocks from occupied building
About 50-60 law enforcement officers wearing riot gear are organizing at 20th and San Pablo, about four blocks from the occupied building.
Agencies involved include the San Mateo County sheriffs, who brought a bus used for transporting prisoners.
Police are putting on helmets and handcuffs and are preparing to get into about 10 unmarked white vans.
The idea of police arriving is beginning to hype up the crowd.
Meanwhile, protesters have built a barricade at 16th and San Pablo streets, near the vacant building, using tires, garbage cans and pallets.
10:52 p.m. Vacant building had been foreclosed, according to flier
The taken-over building that formerly housed the Traveler's Aid Society was foreclosed upon, according to the flier distributed by protesters.
"Since then, the space sat vacant, as though it were disposable to those with the keys," the flier reads. "To us this space is invaluable. We are reclaiming it for the people. It is now open for our use."
The flier's authors say the space is open to the aid society if it wishes to return, and will otherwise be turned into a library and workshop for Oakland residents.
"This space is an example for the country," the note concludes. "When the political and financial systems of this nation fail to provide needed services, we must do it ourselves. We are the 99 percent. This is our future."
-- Sean Maher
10:34 p.m. Building takeover was pre-planned
As hundreds of people gather at the building at 16th and Telegraph, some are passing out fliers bemoaning the nonprofit organization's loss of funding.
The Travelers Aid Society helped homeless people, but lost funding during government cutbacks, protesters say. They have broken in, turned on the lights and are occupying the building to protest the cuts.
About 200-300 more people have headed over to join the initial group of protesters.
10:30 p.m. Protesters take over vacant building
About 100 protesters have stormed a building on 16th street, the site of the former Travelers Aid Society, and have hung a banner reading, "Occupy Everything."
10:15 p.m. Pizza Man is a hotspot tonight
Although the protests are all about corporations that are making too much money, one small business is making a killing tonight: Pizza Man.
The business near the corner of 14th and Broadway has a line out the door.
Hundreds of single slice pizza boxes are overflowing from nearby trash cans.
10:13 p.m. Quan estimates crowd was 7,000
At 10 p.m., about 50 workers at the Port of Oakland had remained stuck at work for more than two hours trying to get home, port officials said in the day's last planned press conference.
Port Director Omar Benjamin said about 150 protesters remained at the port, and that marine operations were still shut down, as they had been since about 5 p.m.
"As of right now in port area, there have been no injuries, no property damage and no major security problems," Benjamin said. "We hope the work day can resume tomorrow and port workers can get to their jobs in safety."
Mayor Jean Quan said she was happy the crowd -- which police estimate maxed out at about 7,000 people at once -- protested all day with very little destruction or violence.
"It looks like this was a good day for the demonstrators and for the 99 percent movement," Quan said. "We will be trying to focus on moving ahead tomorrow for everybody."
Interim police Chief Howard Jordan was asked why the police approach to the crowd was so markedly different from what it had been on Oct. 25, when officers fired tear gas and other less-than-lethal munitions into a crowd police said had begun throwing rocks and bottles at officers.
"Our goal has always been to facilitate a peaceful march," Jordan said. "We react to the actions of the crowd. Today the crowd been peaceful, with no threats to police officers, and we allowed them to peacefully assemble. When crowd becomes assaultive or agitated, we're required by law to respond. That hasn't happened here. What you saw tonight was minimal presence."
Police will release photos later Wednesday night, Jordan said, of some of the 60 to 70 people identified earlier in the day as "determined to cause trouble and instigate a confrontation with police."
Quan spokesperson Sue Piper said the City is well aware that the sight of police lines could be inciting to the crowd, and the minimal appearance of officers was deliberate.
Two people hit by a civilian car at the intersection of 11th Street and Broadway had been injured, Jordan said, but he said reports that one of the victims had died were false.
Asked why the driver of the vehicle that hit those protesters had been allowed to leave the scene, Jordan said he didn't know, and that the incident is still being investigated.
About 900 people remained at Frank H. Ogawa plaza at 10 p.m., according to police estimates.
"Moving forward, we still have the evening to get through," City Administrator Deanna Santana said. "I need to reinforce what we need to ensure our law enforcement can maintain public safety: We need no fires, no vandalism, no rocks, bottles or human waste thrown at officers. We need to enforce traffic and crowd control. With that, we can have more peaceful demonstrations."
-- Sean Maher
10 p.m. Man hit by car has not died, coroner says
The Alameda County Coroner's office said a man hit by a Mercedes at 11th and Broadway earlier this evening has not died, after rumors swirled on Twitter that he had.
Officials at Highland Hospital, where the man was taken by ambulance, said no one had died there in the past 10 hours.
9:55 p.m. Officers from Contra Costa County heading to Oakland
A Contra Costa Sheriff's spokesman says vehicles from the agency's Mobile Force Unit are heading into Oakland to lend support for officers there.
The Sheriff's Office contracts out with police agencies in cities and towns such as Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Danville and Oakley. The city of Concord has also sent officers to Ogawa plaza to help.
9:48 p.m. Some at city hall start heading toward port
At city hall, restlessness appears to be setting in, as some begin marching toward port.
9:39 p.m. Protesters try to block trucks from leaving port
At Third and Adeline streets, groups of protesters are trying to prevent some trucks from leaving the port.
However, they are letting the Disability Action Brigade through.
9:30 p.m. Media briefing soon to begin
Oakland officials will update the media around 9:30. The briefing was postponed from 9 p.m.
8:45 p.m. Word spreads that arbitrator says longshoremen won't cross picket lines
Organizers are heading from the port and from downtown to West Oakland BART in a steady, but moderate stream.
A protest leader with a bullhorn said an arbitrator has declared a "community picket line," which longshoremen won't cross. He said there will be no recrimination against the workers.
Some are still urging the crowd to hold the picket line, but many are leaving.
8:23 p.m. Rowdiness sets in
Longtime Oakland resident Stephanie Ross, who witnessed the Mercedes collision with the protesters, said a short time later: "I think they need to shut it down now. The peaceful protesters are starting to leave. But the people still here are defacing property and banging on things."
"I don't want this to end up in the media as another riot. That's not what this is about. Today as such a beautiful day."
-- Sean Maher
8:19 p.m. Details emerge from collision, festivities continue at plaza
Two people were injured when a man driving a silver Mercedes drove into a crowd of demonstrators in downtown Oakland. Several witnesses say the driver was provoked by a demonstrator who banged on the hood of his car as he attempted to turn onto a street thronged with demonstrators.
"The man who is on the ground now hit the car, and then the driver pushed on the gas," said Ayzia Robinson of Benicia. The car was then surrounded by a mob of demonstrators as medics arrived on the scene.
"The guy who got hit by the car hit the hood of the car, and then the driver hit the gas," said a witness who gave her name as Kareena. "This is a situation where you have two people with bad decision making skills."
Meanwhile, the crowd at Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza remained festive into the evening, with people dancing in the streets. There was no "General Assembly" - the nightly meeting held by Occupy Oakland organizers - because so many people remained at the Port of Oakland. Members of the Alameda Labor Council served free hot dogs, hamburgers, veggie dogs and veggie burgers to a ravenous crowd and had given away more than 4,000 meals by 8 p.m. Firefighters from the City of Alameda with Alameda Local 689 worked the massive charcoal grills while other volunteers began picking up the mountains of trash overflowing garbage bins.
"It's been exciting. There's been great energy all day," said Josie Camacho, secretary treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council. "We have health care workers from Placer County here volunteering."
--- Dana Hull
8:08 p.m. Protesters on the move at port
Some protesters at 7th and Maritime are on the move to gather with others.
Although some group leaders had said they thought longshoremen would come to work at 8 p.m., no workers showed up.
The crowd is beginning to thin.
7:45 p.m. Injury accident on Broadway at 11th Street
A man and a woman were hit at 11th Street and Broadway by a silver Mercedes, after a male driver ran a red light, said Joe Jackson, 37, of Oakland, who witnessed the incident.
The driver was irritated by protesters walking in front of him.
Onlookers said the driver deliberately ran over the pair, accelerating after a man hit on the hood of the car.
The windshield was splattered with what appeared to be a milkshake.
After the car stopped at the other end of the intersection, the driver switched seats with his female passenger.
About 40 people gathered in the intersection and some pulled open the driver's door.
The woman inside shouted: "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"
The injured man and woman were taken away in ambulances.
Police let the driver go.
-- Sean Maher
7:43 p.m. Protesters hit by car
Protesters marching from Frank Ogawa Plaza to the Port of Oakland have been hit by a car. The extent of their injuries is unknown.
7:40 p.m. Protesters set up driver check points at port
The intersection at Seventh and Maritime streets is almost like a rebel checkpoint. Every car that comes through is stopped while protesters question the driver, then debate with the larger group about whether they should be allowed to pass.
"He's a worker," a protester at a car will shout to the group. "He's trying to get home."
Then, they await the larger answer: "Let him go through," the crowd replies, and the driver is allowed on his or her way.
Protesters, however, are refusing to let television news trucks through.
"They work for the 1 percent," the crowd will shout. "We can tell our own story."
-- Paul T. Rosynsky
7:35 p.m. Protesters try to block news truck from leaving
At Seventh and Maritime streets, protesters argued briefly over whether to let a CBS5 news truck leave the port, with several protesters blocking the path. Others are urging them to let the truck leave.
7:25 p.m. Google map corrected
Frank Ogawa Plaza is no longer called "Oscar Grant Plaza" on Google maps. The change was apparently a user contribution that has since been corrected.
7:18 p.m. Port workers try to arrive for night shift
The Pacific Maritime Association requested 200 stevedores to work the night shift at the port, and those workers are making every attempt to get work, said Craig Merriless, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
7:15 p.m.: Stragglers continue to head toward port
At 14th and Broadway, a drum circle and a truck begin heading east on Broadway, with the intention of circling around City Hall, then heading toward the port.
Hundreds are following.
7:01 p.m. Port workers try to leave
Some port workers express visible support for the strike while others became entangled with testy exchanges with the protesters as the workers tried to leave the port.
At Maritime Street and Middle Harbor Road, one truck driver said he was angered by the dozen people who had occupied the roof of his trailer. His shift began at 4 a.m. and he wanted to get home to San Jose.
"It's his truck. He's not the problem," said protester Erica Lee, who works at a coffee import business in West Oakland.
Another protester yelled for the people on the trailer to get off, expanding that the driver was paid by a truckload and they should not alienate the port workers.
The crowd, however, was only getting larger and it appeared the driver would be stuck there for several hours. A brass band played on the street outside and one sign carried up to the trailer said, "Be excellent to each other."
"There are some truckers that are probably pretty cool with it," Lee said. "I saw some who were stoked. But some people are probably getting annoyed."
6:50 p.m. Meanwhile, back at the plaza....
Union workers are hosting a huge cookout.
6:40 p.m. Police retreating from port
Police are pulling away from the line of protesters at the port. Officers remain in the command center, but they are not longer blocking the line of bicyclists.
6:30 p.m. Support arrives from county sheriff's office
Vanloads of officers from the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and unmarked SWAT vans have arrived at the OPD command center at the Port.
Some officers are heading to the nearby EBMUD facility.
6:18 p.m. Brief standoff with police, protesters at port
About 50 police officers wearing riot gear have formed a line at Maritime and Bataan roads, near the OPD command center. Some have shotguns with tear-gas canisters equipped. About a dozen motorcycle officers are forming a line behind them. All the officers appear to be from the Oakland Police Department.
About a dozen protesters on bicycles are facing off in front of the officers, including one wearing a bandanna to cover his face. Other protesters on foot are heading that way.
6:25 p.m. Crowd grows by thousands
Thousands of people are continuing to stream over the bridge onto Adeline Street, blanketing all four lanes.
The crowd continues to be peaceful. It includes many bands and children, with no anarchists in sight.
6:13 p.m: Port workers try to leave
Some port workers are leaving taking 7th Street instead of Harbor Road, which is filled with people.
Some disputed there was any violence, but blamed the media for reporting it.
6 p.m. Port entrance
About 3,000 of people were stopped at the port entrance for about 40 minutes, before moving into the port. Thousands more people were surging over the bridge onto Adeline Street.
The crowd was peaceful, with people playing music, smoking marijuana and standing on top of trucks that were parked in the crowd.
5:47 p.m. More details from the command post news conference
The Oakland general strike called by Occupy Oakland has drawn thousands Wednesday for rallies and marches. The show of solidarity is expected to continue throughout the day and many businesses have shut down.
The Port of Oakland was effectively shut down around 5 p.m. as protesters arriving appeared to potentially endanger the workers there, Port Executive Director Omar Benjamin said.
No injuries had been reported to the city as of a 5 p.m. news conference held by city leaders, but Benjamin said, "We ask that everyone remain calm, respectful and safe. Specifically, we ask that demonstrators allow port workers safe passage home. Please allow our fellow 99 percent to get home safe to their families."
"Maritime operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so," he added.
The total crowd at 5 p.m. was estimated at between 4,500 and 5,000 people, interim police Chief Howard Jordan said. About 3,000 were "marching peacefully to the Port," he added.
"Earlier, we got reports that five businesses have been damaged, mostly banks and Whole Foods. We deeply regret that took place," Jordan said.
Of the crowd of thousands, Jordan said, a small group of just 60 or 70 people now identified as anarchists were responsible for the vandalism, Jordan said.
"We are aware of people bent on causing problems, and we're taking steps to address those problems," Jordan said. But so far, he added, "There are no reports of officers being injured, and no one else being injured."
He also said no one had yet been arrested, and acknowledged that some calls for service are taking longer to respond to than he'd like.
"We're facilitating roughly 5,000 people moving freely around Oakland," he said. "So it's possible some calls will not be handled immediately. In a perfect world we'd have 5,000 cops here too."
CHP officers and Alameda County Sheriff's deputies are helping mitigate traffic problems near the Port, including preventing people from walking into the freeway or bridge, Jordan said.
There are no police blockades set up, but marchers will not be allowed to cross the Port gates, Jordan said.
"That's a federal crime, and at that point they'll be arrested," he said.
City Administrator Deanna Santana said she let city employees go home at 3:30 p.m., in light of the highly congested crowd around Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.
"I want to reinforce what we need to ensure public safety in the streets: we need no fires, no vandalism, no throwing bottles or rocks or human waste at police officers," Santana said.
"The world is watching Oakland tonight and we need to make this a safe place for everyone."
-- Sean Maher
5:45 p.m.: Oakland calls for mutual aid
Oakland is now calling for extra officers from other jurisdictions for help dealing with the Occupy general strike, signaling possible concern from officials about what direction the protest will take tonight.
San Mateo Sheriff's Lt. Ray Lunny confirmed that Alameda County has called for mutual aid from San Mateo County.
Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan said Tuesday the city would deal with the strike with its own officers, though he has said mutual was available if needed. San Mateo County officers were instructed to bring gas masks and riot gear.
-- Joshua Melvin
5:41 p.m. Protesters have taken over port
Protesters have taken over the Port of Oakland. They are blocking entrances, climbing on top of containers and even railroad crossings.
5:30 p.m.: Port entrances blocked
Protesters are blocking all three entrances to the Port of Oakland at Seventh and Maritime streets, Fifth and Adeline streets, and West Grand and Maritime.
The Oakland Police Department is trying to move its West Oakland command center from the area, while the Teamsters union is helping direct protesters to entrances.
Truckers are being turned around.
5:15 p.m.: Quan, Chief Howard update events
At least five businesses were damaged, but no reports of injuries or arrests, Police Chief Howard Jordan says at media briefing.
Port director Omar Benjamin says Port is effectively shut down. He asks for protesters to allow workers to safely go home.
"The world is watching Oakland tonight and we need to make sure this is a safe place for everyone," City Administrator Deanna Santana says in massive call for violence-free protests tonight.
5:05 p.m.: Police break through protest line
Dozens of police motorcycles have broken through the line of bicycles at the Port, and a California Highway Patrol officer has reportedly run over a bicycle.
5 p.m.: Hundreds more start march to Port
Several hundred people have now left the main Occupy Oakland encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza and have started marching down 14th Street to the Port of Oakland.
4:50 p.m. Seventh street closed in both directions
Police have closed Seventh Street in both directions while hundreds march down Market Street to the Port. No reports of violence yet. The group is chanting, "Let's go Oakland!" "Take the port!" and "We got sold out!"
Truckers are negotiating with those blocking entrances to the Port, telling protesters that their trucks are empty.
4:34 p.m. Helmeted police at port
Lot of police at the Port. CHP on motorcycles. Couple of dozen helmeted police.
About 100 cyclists and seven buses carrying demonstrators have made it to the port. The protesters are trying to block the trucks from entering. Police are blocking vehicle traffic on Maritime Street.
4:15 p.m. Children's brigade to join march
More than 100 children, parents, toddlers and babies are gathered at the Oakland public library to march in a "children's brigade" to the Port. The library is swarming with wagons, strollers, bicycles and children in carriers. The children practiced a chant," Play fair and share." Many will march to the main demonstration at 14th and Broadway, and others will continue on to the Port.
Meantime, more details emerged from the fracas at Whole Foods. Around 3 p.m., a small group of what appeared to be high school students attacked the grocery near Lake Merritt, breaking a window with chairs and table legs and splashing red and green paint on the walls. They also spray-painted "Strike" on the exterior wall in white paint.
"It sounded like gunshots," said one customer who was trapped inside but declined to give her name. "People started running and screaming and crying. Employees were crying."
Claire Moore, 30, of Oakland, was inside when she heard a commotion outside and banging on the windows. She was frustrated some of the protesters had chosen to vandalize Whole foods. "How much more unpeaceful does a nonviolent protest get. We don't want this kind of attention for the movement. This puts a damper on the whole demonstration, which has largely been peaceful."
Another witness, Owen Latham, 25, said that the vandals appeared to be high school students. He saw about eight teenagers all wearing black spraypainting Whole foods and trying to break windows while other protesters tried to stop them.
A man who witnessed the Whole Foods attack, but asked not to be identified, said he was in the store buying an organic orange when the crowd arrived.
"I heard a thud as I walked out, and I looked and saw this whole parade of people walking toward the store," the witness said. "Most of them were holding signs, walking peacefully, but about three people ran out and kicked down the gate, so I turned to run away."
The experience was surreal, the man said.
"They were wearing masks. There was this whole mess of people, and no police here. That was weird."
Joan Bechtel, of Pittsburg, said she and her friend got caught inside when the vandalism started and were held inside the store for 45 minutes.
"People were scared at first, and there was a lot of tension there for quite a while," Bechtel said. "We heard they were coming back and the employees said they had to close the store, and they let us out."
Despite being a scary experience, Bechtel said, "It was totally nonviolent in terms of hurting people. I think they made their point. I felt something could maybe go haywire if the glass broke or the police showed up, but I'm still rooting for them, for the demonstrators."
Oakland City Council President Larry Reid took a more dismal view of the crowd's growing rowdiness.
"Look at Whole Foods. Look at Bank of America and the Kaiser Center. Look at Chase Bank. It's not even dark yet." Asked if he thinks the city can control the vandalism, Reid sighed, and said simply, "No."
-- Dana Hull and Sean Maher
4:15 p.m. Marchers start trek to Port
The general strike march to the Port of Oakland has started, from Frank Ogawa Plaza to the maritime terminals in West Oakland.
4:10 p.m. Buses leave for Port as groups prepare to march
Hundreds have gathered at 14th and Broadway in preparation to march to the Port of Oakland.
Seven charter buses have left down Broadway, ferrying people to the Port, and one more bus is expected to arrive.
The festive atmosphere continues at the plaza, with drummers entertaining the crowd.
4:05 p.m. Minimal public transit delays
BART train service through Oakland has continued as normal Wednesday, while AC Transit has rerouted buses on many lines around the city's downtown, public transit officials said.
BART ridership was slightly down during the morning rush hour -- a variation possibly due to some people skipping work or working at home, BART spokesman Jim Allison said Wednesday afternoon.
Around noon, there was a modest surge of riders exiting BART at Oakland City Center-12th Street station, near the spot for political rallies.
AC Transit spokesman Charles Johnson said several bus were detoured to avoid marchers and rallies. Buses on more than 20 lines were detoured as of mid Wednesday afternoon, AC Transit reported in an email. Bus drivers showed up for work Wednesday at normal rates, Johnson added.
-- Denis Cuff
4 p.m. Groups prepare to march to Port of Oakland
A 4 p.m. briefing at the OPD command center has been delayed for an hour as protesters mass in downtown Oakland. The first wave of protesters is expected to begin marching to the Port of Oakland at 4 p.m.
3:45 p.m. A church is vandalized
Staff members at Christ the Light Cathedral are cleaning up graffiti -- the word "f***" -- sprayed on the concrete wall facing Lake Merritt.
3:30 p.m. Many downtown businesses didn't open today
While a number of pizza shops, cafes and other restaurants opened for business, some of the stores near the heart of the protest kept their doors closed today, including Walgreens, Rite Aid, Foot Locker, Spitz Jewelers, Lucky Money, Twilight Zone, and Scottrade, a stock trading company.
Men's Wearhouse, Saigon Restaurant and Oaklandish are also closed, in solidarity with the movement, and Oaksterdam University is closed as well. Also:
Others remained open: Payless Shoe Source, Subway Sandwich and Plaza Cafe, along with several pizza places.
-- George Avalos
2:45 p.m. Whole Foods-fight
As marchers approached the Whole Foods Market near Lake Merritt, a small group of people in black infiltrated the group, smashing the windows and throwing paint at the store.
Other demonstrators enveloped the agitators, forcing them to stop. Fistfights broke out. No one went inside; the store closed its doors before the crowd arrived.
After the incident, the crowd continued to move down Grand Avenue. Protesters on Twitter appear to be trying to find the people responsible for the vandalism.
Whole Foods denies rumors that managers threatened to fire employees who participated in today's strike.
Regional President David Lannon posted the following statement on Facebook: "We totally support our Team Members participating in the General Strike today -- rumors are false! Again, no Team Member is losing job for supporting strike."
The East Bay Express reports that Whole Foods shoppers, held inside for about 15 minutes, have left.
-- Robert Salonga
2 p.m. Dressing up for the protest
A few protesters are dressing for the strike as they would for the office.
Dave Baba, 62, is wearing a crisp white button down, dark suit, striped tie and fine leather shoes.
"I'm an old hand at this," he said. "You have to have a little dignity."
He added, "As soon as they start seeing more regular people, they'll start to take notice."
Baba, who lives in Danville, spent his career working for a graphic design firm on Broadway just a few blocks from the plaza.
An Oakland native, he protested the draft at this same intersection.
"The police wouldn't let us out in those days," he said. "They would lock down the block."
1:30 p.m. Sorry, we're closed
Some of the bank branches targeted by protesters were closed all day, including the Wells Fargo and Citibank outlets near Oakland City Center.
Wells did open its ATMs around noon, but kept the branch doors shut.
"It's inconvenient," said Adrielle Kent, a Modesto resident who works in Oakland. "But I understand why they are closed."
Wells had said this week that security for customers and team members would determine their decision for closing branches.
"I'm not surprised Wells is closed," said Chris Kee, who works for the city of Oakland. "There is always the possibility of disruptions."
The Wells branch was marred by some graffiti. "Who's robbing who" and "99%" were scrawled on the wall.
Just down the street on Broadway, a Citibank branch also had its doors shut.
The ATMs were taped over. On the machines several placards were taped. "Foreclose the 1%" and "Occupy the banks" were among them.
-- George Avalos
1:20 p.m. Transit update
BART continues to run at full capacity and AC Transit is rerouting several downtown bus lines between 12th and 20th streets over to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, City Administrator spokeswoman Karen Boyd said.
Travelers should call 511 to check traffic and transportation issues throughout the day, Boyd said.
-- Sean Maher
1:15 p.m. Leaving Bank of America
The crowd is pulling away from the Bank of America building, moving up 21st Street toward Webster and, eventually, Frank Ogawa Plaza.
1:05 p.m. Protest leaders try to keep the peace at Bank of America
The doors of Bank of America are taped off from the outside. Marchers are pounding on the bank glass, writing on the windows with a marker. Several march leaders appear to be trying to stop people with bandannas covering their faces from smashing the windows.
The crowd is now chanting, "They got bailed out. We got sold out."
A sign posted there reads, "We, the people of Oakland, stop choosing profit over people."
12:50 p.m. Chase doors blocked; a bigger crowd returns to Bank of America
Protesters have blocked the doors to the Chase branch on 20th and Webster. Meanwhile, most of the crowd has moved a block away to the Bank of America branch at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center on Lake Merritt.
12:30 p.m. Protesters converge at banks
Thousands of people have assembled at the intersection at Webster and 20th streets in front of Chase and other bank branches. Two protesters climbed a lamp post and put up a banner that crosses Webster street that says "Occupy the banks." The ATM has been spray painted.
Employees are looking out from the second floor windows, grinning at the spectacle.
Protesters are chanting, "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out" and "Hey Chase, what do you say? How many houses did you take today?"
Among the demonstrators was Kijami Safari, 26, of Oakland, who works for the alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. He said his job is to keep the peace and "make sure nobody breaks the law, within reason."
-- Hannah Dreier and Julia Prodis Sulek
Noon: Marchers serve school district eviction notice
The teachers and student marchers that started at Laney College served a symbolic eviction notice at OUSD.
Joel Velasquez, a parent of two children at Westlake school, read the school members names out and said they are "on notice that they will be evicted from office in the next election for doing the dirty work of the 1 percent."
He added: "They are part of institutional problems that cause hardship on low-income children."
11:57 a.m. Next target: Bank of America
Two or three dozen protesters are blocking the Bank of America branch in the Henry J. Kaiser Center near Lake Merritt. They marched there chanting, "Shut down B of A."
11:55 a.m. City officials to take a van tour of downtown
At about 11:30 a.m., Mayor Jean Quan, City Administrator Deanna Santana, Police Chief Howard Jordan and City Councilman Larry Reid left the emergency operations center to take a van tour of the goings on downtown. Jordan said at the time that police estimated the crowd at about 700 people, a fraction of the organizers' estimates, but will likely have an update for the next press briefing at noon.
The City Council canceled the committee meeting Thursday morning where they would have scheduled more discussions and items for next week. The council will still meet Thursday night to vote on a resolution supporting the Occupy Oakland movement and camp. They will also hear public input on the Occupy Oakland encampment, the police action on the camp on Oct. 25 and the general strike itself.
11:55 a.m. Marchers converge on school district headquarters
About 300 to 400 protesters, a combination of school teachers and students, are marching down 10th Street, eastbound past the Kaiser Convention Center, appear to be headed to the Oakland Unified School District Headquarters on 2nd Avenue.
11:50 a.m. UC march heads down Telegraph
The Daily Californian reports that hundreds of students, marching down Telegraph, have just crossed 62nd Street, chanting, "We are the 99 percent."
11:20 a.m. Another group assembles at Laney College
Oakland North reports that teachers union members and students from ARISE High School have arrived at Laney College, and that they plan to head to the Oakland School District Headquarters.
10:55 a.m. Occupying Wells Fargo
People are gathered outside the locked doors of the Wells Fargo and Comerica branches on 12th and Broadway. It appears as though the Wells Fargo was closed before the protesters arrived. Protesters in bandannas yelled at tellers in locked Comerica Bank: "Lemme in I want to get $25 for opening account."
The march, which some observers have likened to a parade, has stopped out front, filling the intersection. Occupy Oakland organizers put the size of the crowd at 5,000.
10:35 a.m. Outside the state building
The crowd is on 16th and Clay streets, outside the Elihu M. Harris State Building. People are peaceful, singing and holding hundreds of signs. There was no sign of police anywhere during the march; now some officers are inside the building, watching the door.
10:30 a.m. City Council president on the Occupy movement: 'I don't like the method'
City Council President Larry Reid arrived at the command center shortly before 10 a.m.
Asked what his hopes are for the day, Reid said, "I'm hoping we have the least amount of impact on our local businesses, who are also part of the 99 percent."
Reid said he's gotten numerous calls from frustrated small business owners since the Occupy Oakland encampment set up shop in early October, who are contemplating leaving the city.
"These are folks who don't want to expose their employees to potential danger," Reid said. "They went through the Oscar Grant murder riots, and a lot of folks are fed up. They're trying to get out of their lease agreements."
Reid said he strongly supports the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement, "but I don't like the method. This is a blue collar town, and if the city is going to get on sound footing, we have to attract jobs."
The center is now where all the city's top leaders are keeping track of the situation: Reid, Mayor Jean Quan, City Administrator Deanna Santana, interim police Chief Howard Jordan and fire Chief Mark Hoffmann.
-- Sean Maher
10:30 a.m. March to Wells Fargo Bank
Protesters are marching peacefully down Broadway.
No one has spotted a uniformed police officer since dawn, though organizers say they assume plain clothes officers have been monitoring the rally.
James Harrow, who is doing safety and security work for the strike, says he expects to see uniformed officers further down Broadway, but is confident that the crowd will remain peaceful.
"I haven't seen a single cop and I've seen all protesters acting safely and respectfully," he said. "It's been incredible. My hope is that everything stays de-escalated."
The crowd is composed of a wider range of ages than the core Occupy campers, with many retirees in attendance, as well as a smattering of children.
-- Hannah Dreier
10:15 a.m. Bank action begins
Protesters are headed north on Broadway, possibly to shut down the Wells Fargo branch at 20th and Webster.
10:10 a.m. The crowd is swelling
Each BART train seems to bring scores of people -- including some school-age children -- to downtown Oakland. And there's not just speeches; there's theater, rapping, dancing and singing.
9:50 a.m. Port slowed, but not shut down
Rumors abound around the strike, but the port is not shutdown -- only slowed significantly. A mile-long line of trucks from both directions lead to the SSA terminal.
9:40 a.m. Mayor says most city employees at work
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said less than 5 percent of city employees taken advantage of floating holidays or furloughs to call in today.
"The only city service impacted right now is Head Start," she said.
She added: "At this point we expect fully this is going to be a good day for Oakland, and we can show how people can protest and get their message across and we can keep the city safe at the same time. We're looking forward to a day of peaceful protest."
Oakland police are the only enforcement officers on the ground, interim police Chief Howard Jordan said, but mutual aid is available if the need arises to call it in.
Once called, that aid would be between one and two hours away, Jordan said.
Quan said she asked Gov. Jerry Brown to send enough CHP officers to make sure traffic control would run smoothly.
Quan said she and other city leaders, "spent a lot of days working with community to make sure today is a day that supports the goals of the 99 percent. Oakland is clearly a progressive city, and we support many of their demands, particularly those that focus on foreclosures, fair lending processes and making capital available to low income communities."
She added that "Many Oaklanders today who may favor the goals of the demonstrators may not be able to afford to take the day off, and we're asking the demonstrators to respect that."
Fire department Chief Mark Hoffmann said firefighters will be on hand throughout the day to provide first aid if it becomes necessary.
He added that there are "red flag" warnings out in parts of the city Wednesday after wind gusts Tuesday night knocked down more than 60 trees and dropped several power lines.
-- Sean Maher
9:40 a.m. Flash mob comes to Frank Ogawa
A group of young women in clown costumes just flooded out of the 12th Street BART station.
9:35 a.m.: Angela Davis addresses crowd
"The eyes of the world are on our city. There are now Occupy movements in Asia and South America and Europe. The 99 percent are rising all over the planet," Davis tells the crowd.
"Economic justice includes freedom from police oppression include freedom from police oppression"
She called the Oakland police an "occupying police force."
9:20 a.m. : Richmond contingent on the way
A dozen progressives led by Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin set off down San Pablo Avenue for Oakland about 8:30 a.m., carrying anti-rich placards and a long banner that read "Occupy Oakland."
"We are marching in solidarity with the Occupy Oakland movement. We stand for the 99 percent that the system is failing," McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin also took a verbal poke at her Oakland counterpart, Jean Quan, for allowing her police department to forcefully roust protesters last week, a clash that made international headlines.
"We really are at a crossroads here. As an elected official, you need to know which side you are on or you will get caught in the intersection, as Jean Quan did," McLaughlin said.
-- Karl Fischer
8:59 a.m. Reports of Port of Oakland shutdown
Word is spreading that the longshoremen have short-staffed the early shift, and the Port of Oakland is shut down. Reporters are on their way to the port to confirm. Chief Wharfinger Chris Peterson said work is happening in some terminals, "but it's really slow."
8:50 Traffic hot line
People hoping to drive in or around Oakland can call 211 for updates on traffic conditions and other ways the strike may be affecting public thoroughfares.
8:45 a.m. UC Office of the President is closed
The 850 employees of the UC Office of the President are staying home from work today, according to a security guard at the building on Franklin and 12th.
8:55 a.m. Crowds gather, protesters blocking traffic
A hundred protesters are standing and walking in circles in intersection of Broadway and 14th Street, trying to cut off traffic.
A couple hundred have gathered in the Plaza, most are coming from BART, some are bicycling in, others on foot.
8:45 a.m. Google maps renames Ogawa Plaza as "Oscar Grant Plaza"
On Google maps, the label for Frank Ogawa Plaza is now 'Oscar Grant Plaza". Check it out here: http://bit.ly/vVXX7D
8:40 a.m. Cafe pledges support
Awaken Café, operating out of a retail shop near 14th Street and Broadway, opened for business Wednesday morning with a pledge to donate 20 percent of its sales to the Ella Baker Center and the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Employees also pledged to donate their wages, according to the shop's Facebook page.
"But we're not sure how everyone will receive us being open in the heart of downtown Oakland or what kind of crowd to expect downtown," the post read. "We want to be an active participant of this conversation and movement."
8:30 a.m. City leaders committed to peaceful day of protests
City leaders and police "remain committed to facilitating peaceful demonstrations and freedom of speech," and "are aware of the events scheduled throughout the day and have prepared accordingly," according to an announcement City Administrator spokeswoman Karen Boyd e-mailed to the press shortly after 8 a.m.
The City is expecting a peaceful crowd today, Boyd wrote. But as a precautionary measure, she added, OPD "has advised banks that their doors should be closed to everyone except customers and should facilitate customer access at secured doors."
City offices and services will open as usual, Boyd wrote, adding, "we recognize that service levels may be impacted, but we do not anticipate a major reduction in services at this time."
There are about 2,500 civilians currently employed by the City, and about 1,150 firefighters and police officers. Public safety employees have mandatory staffing and all OPD officers were ordered to come to work Wednesday, but civilian workers can take the day to join the strike by using a vacation or furlough day, Boyd said.
8:20 The rally is beginning
Dance music is pumping from a sound system in a truck parked at 14th and Broadway, and people are beginning to speak. Demonstrators are holding signs promoting a range of causes, from the resignation of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to an embargo of Israel. One advertises a Nov. 5 Marxism conference at UC Berkeley.
8:15 A new masthead in town
The Occupy demonstrators have started up their own newspaper — Occupied Oakland Tribune. The lead story today is headlined "General Strike and Mass Action!
8:10 a.m. Oakland police haven't called for outside support
Though the city has sought mutual aid from outside law enforcement agencies, interim police Chief Howard Jordan said this morning that for now, the Oakland Police Department is the only agency handling crowd control.
"It's always an option to call (other agencies), but that's not being considered right now," Jordan said. "This crowd told us they want to be peaceful and we're going to take them at their word."
CHP and Alameda County Sheriff's deputies will help control traffic down by the Port of Oakland, Jordan added.
The city's leadership set up shop at an emergency operations center Wednesday morning, several blocks from the strike's epicenter at 14th Street and Broadway.
City Administrator Deanna Santana was on hand by 7 a.m., and interim police Chief Howard Jordan arrived about 8 a.m. Mayor Jean Quan was in a staff meeting and expected to arrive around 9 a.m.
-- Sean Maher
7:45 a.m. Arising to the strains of "Dead Prez"
Brian Crow, 20, sound guy for the day, is blasting Dead Prez from a flatbed truck stacked with speakers.
Crow, a DJ, has been camping out here for three weeks
The speakers and sound equipment are all loans from individuals in the music and recording industry.
He's been working on this nonstop for a week and also does sound for the camp's general assembly.
"The thing about sound at Occupy Oakland is no one thinks about it till it's not there. It's been pretty manic getting all this together."
Crow was working in a solar panel factory, quit three weeks ago to come down here.
"Sure it was nice having a full-time job but it didn't pay very well. It's not just about being able to get a factory job -- they don't have benefits and job security"
He is excited about today's strike.
"We're attempting something that hasn't happened here since 1946 -- since the last time Oakland did it"
7:15 a.m. Street blocked off near police station
Long rows of white vans are parked in front of the Oakland police headquarters on Sixth Street. The street is blocked off to traffic.
7 a.m. Groups starting to set up
Occupants of the tent city are starting to rise and fastening down tents to keep them from blowing away in gusty winds.
Some people are fashioning a flatbed truck with speakers to be a rolling platform.
Carey Dall, 35, a dockworker with the ILWU, was among the first to arrive at Frank Ogawa Plaza. He was standing next to a pile of about 100 signs "Stand with the 99 percent" ready to be distributed.
The strike is an important symbolic gesture, he said.
"Economic impact is how you make change," Dall said. "It's going to take sustained activity like this if we are going to see changes in this country."
Dall works in San Francisco but lives in Oakland. The ILWU is encouraging participation but not specifically telling people not to go to work.
Also on hand International Workers of the World. They say they have been supporting Occupy Oakland from the start and are hoping for a strong turnout.
-- Robert Salonga