OAKLAND -- Hundreds of protesters gathered peacefully Thursday night to mark the first anniversary of Occupy Oakland, marching for miles through the city's downtown before reconvening at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza to reminisce over the past year.
At one point during the march, protesters faced off against dozens of riot-gear clad officers outside Oakland police headquarters, but the marchers quickly peeled off and headed back to the plaza. One person was arrested on suspicion of throwing a rock at officers, but the rally -- marking the one-year anniversary of a police raid on the original Occupy encampment at Ogawa Plaza -- was otherwise uneventful.
Starting at 7 p.m., as many as 200 people snaked their way through downtown Oakland, to Lake Merritt, into Chinatown and then to the police department. The march took protesters on a walking tour of the sites of previous clashes between Occupy members and police.
By 9 p.m., they were back at the plaza, had a drum circle going and watched a slideshow projected onto a sheet of photos of past protests. By 11 p.m., the crowd had dwindled to about 30 people, listening to music and milling about the plaza.
Throughout the earlier activity, police kept close tabs on the crowd with four vans of officers never veering far from marchers and at least 15 officers walking alongside the group.
Police blocked roads so the crowd could pass safely and the march, at points, seemed celebratory, with a marcher
One person was arrested about 9 p.m. after officers said he threw a rock at them during the march. The man, identified 25-year-old Alexander Loutsis of Stockton, was arrested at Ogawa Plaza after an incident officers said occurred about a half-hour earlier, as marchers were passing 8th Street and Broadway. The rock struck an officer in the chest, but he was not hurt, police said. The man was wearing a mask at the time, police said; he was arrested on a charge of felony battery on a police officer.
The arrest was the only one reported by late Thursday, following a day of rallies, speeches and a community meal in Frank Ogawa Plaza -- with dozens of police and private security guards watching protesters' every move. Oakland police sent out several messages saying violence would not be tolerated during the day's events.
Although the gathering and march were peaceful, anti-police chants were heard loud and clear.
In the crowd was Scott Thomas Olsen, a young veteran who last year was struck in the head with a tear-gas during protests following the Oct. 25, 2011, raid on the camp. Olsen was being pushed a wheelchair stemming from an accident unrelated to his injury last year.
As the events began Thursday afternoon, Samsarah Morgan said she was in the plaza to celebrate the "rebirth" of the Occupy movement, while pointing out that she is not part of the "official" movement. She said her group condemned violence.
"We ask for peace tonight," Morgan said.
Numerous merchants in downtown Oakland boarded up their windows in anticipation of violence that has marked Occupy protests for the past year.
Earlier this month, a flier was distributed downtown urging people to bring bats to stand up and "defend Oakland." The flier said that people should plan to "beat the (expletive) out of anarchists and vandals" during the anniversary events.
The day, however, was mostly low-key.
That was a stark contrast to one year ago when at least 200 police, many in riot gear, tore down an Occupy Oakland encampment of more than 100 tents in front of City Hall and arrested dozens of people. A smaller camp near the lake was also dismantled in the early morning of Oct. 25, 2011.
Those raids sparked a day of protests that continued into the early morning of Oct. 26, when as many as 1,000 people marched throughout downtown Oakland. The rally quickly turned violent, and police fired bean bag rounds and tear gas to disperse protesters who sometimes threw bottles and rocks at officers. It was shortly after that Olsen, 24, of Daly City, was struck with the tear-gas canister.
That night, protesters set up a second encampment at Ogawa Plaza, which they named Oscar Grant Plaza, after a man who was killed by BART police in 2009. The second camp at Frank Ogawa Plaza grew to several hundred tents before it was again disbanded by police on Nov. 14, 2011.
Since then, groups affiliated with Occupy have staged numerous protests and rallies throughout downtown Oakland, several of which led to broken windows, vandalism and mass arrests.
Occupy supporter Dafina Kuficha called the vandals cowards and blamed them for making people look at Occupy Oakland as a disjointed, violent movement.
"We are standing for positive change," Kuficha said.
The city Thursday pledged to protect free speech rights, while also expressing zero tolerance for vandalism or overnight camping at the plaza.