UPDATE #1 from the streets of Oakland…
Clashes have broken out at 14th & Broadway next to Oscar Grant Plaza as riot police snatch squads attempted to grab comrades out of the swelling crowd gathering for the noon strike rally. Police fired tear gas and flash bang grenades in an unsuccessful attempt to clear the intersection.
The morning started at 8:30am with strike actions kicking off from three points around the perimeter of downtown. On 4th and Broadway, Oakland Occupy Patriarchy swarmed Child Protective Services who recently seized the children of an Occupy Oakland comrade citing her involvement with OO as an act of child endangerment. A massive police presence had already surrounded the building effectively shutting it down. The action continued on to the Alameda County Court House setting up a picket there.
On the other side of the downtown core, the anti-gentrification strike station was also met with dozens of riot police but managed to take the streets after hanging a banner off a nearby building. Workers at Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe, a recent trendy addition to the gentrifying Uptown corridor had attempted to walk off the job for May Day but were threatened with disciplinary action by their boss. The picket team stormed Rudy’s in solidarity and were surprised to find Phil Tagami, one of Oakland’s main corrupt capitalist developer insiders, eating breakfast at a table. Furious at the intrusion, Tagami shoved one of the strikers before the action spilled back onto the streets and made it’s way down Broadway where it set up pickets at other gentrifying businesses in the area.
At the third strike station in Snow Park, hundreds of anti capitalists gathered before marching on the Bank of America across the street. The bank locked it’s doors as the crowd banged on the windows and more comrades arrived. Moving on, the action shut down a Chase Bank and a Wells Fargo where a squad of riot police darted into the crowd tackling one demonstrator. The strikers surrounded the police with chants of ‘Let him go!’ and roared with cheers as the police were eventually forced to release the comrade and retreat. As the march headed down Franklin into downtown followed by riot police, a police ATV attempted to drive directly through the crowd and hit one demonstrator who dropped his bicycle. The ATV drove over the bicycle crushing it and was swarmed by the enraged crowd. It quickly fled leaving the crowd cheering and the bicycle mangled.
Eventually, these various strike actions converged on Broadway as hundreds more demonstrators trickled into downtown bringing the crowd to thousands. Music began blasting at the plaza on the corner of 14th and Broadway and many strikers took a break and grabbed free food and beverages provided by the OO May Day assembly. Another large crowd of hundreds marched back into the streets heading towards the major banking area on 20th but were prevented from reaching it by lines of riot police. The march turned around and as it reached the plaza, riot police snatch squads attacked the crowd. Mobile barricades and shields attempted to protect the crowd but there have been multiple brutal arrests. Police opened fire with flash bangs and a small amount of tear gas but were unable to clear the intersection.
The mood is tense but festive here as the mid day rally begins. Riot police have retreated on some streets near the plaza but are keeping a heavy presence on others. At 1pm another set of strike actions are set to kick off and the large Dignity and Resistance march will be making it’s way from Fruitvale BART in East Oakland at 3pm. Organizers have asked that everyone come help hold the plaza and the intersection of 14th and Broadway as well as converge back downtown at 6pm upon the arrival of the march.