Oakland May Day Protest Triggers Arrests and Tear Gas
An Occupy Oakland May Day protest reeled out of control Tuesday as police fired tear gas into the unruly crowd and made several arrests.
Protesters began gathering around 9 a.m. in downtown Oakland and took to the streets, blocking traffic on several streets as they marched. Around noon, several hundred protesters gathered in an intersection in front of City Hall where a confrontation with police began. In a matter minutes, tears gas was fired into the crowd as tension rose and riot-geared police began making arrests.
Police were forced to Taser at least one demonstrator to take him into custody.
The Oakland disturbance came less than 24 hours after another demonstration left broken windows and damage behind in San Francisco’s Mission District.
The vandalism began shortly after 9 p.m. at the Mission Police Station at 17th and Valencia streets, according to police Capt. Robert Moser, who oversees the station.
Moser said the “event unfolded rather quickly” with more than 100 protesters traveling north on Valencia Street and causing destruction along the way.
Seventeen vehicles and more than 20 businesses were damaged, as well as the police station, where protesters smashed windows and splattered the building with paint.
The protesters eventually dispersed near 12th and Folsom streets, and only one person was arrested, a male who was cited for vehicle code violations and resisting arrest and later released, Moser said.
Rush Jones, who lives in the neighborhood, said he was frustrated with the protesters.
“There’s a fine line between vandalism and having a cause,” Jones said. “I don’t think they achieved anything at all.”
Meanwhile, officers with helmets and batons patrolled the Golden Gate Bridge early Tuesday and two busy ferry lines on the San Francisco Bay were shut down.
Even though a planned shutdown of the Golden Gate Bridge by Occupy San Francisco protesters was called off, security on the famed structure was bolstered for the day.
Meanwhile, unionized transit workers of the bridge district staged a morning-long strike to voice their frustrations over slow progress at the bargaining table over a new labor contract. They have been working without a contract since last summer.
“The negotiations haven’t been contentious per se, we just haven’t met in the middle yet,” said Golden Gate Bridge Transit District spokeswoman Mary Currie. “We have 25 bargaining units and they bargain together an umbrella called the union coalition. We’ve been at the table with them since last spring.”
However, union leaders had a different viewpoint and were promising further labor actions later in May.
Inland Boatman’s Union spokesman Alex Tonisson said the fight is over health care benefits.
“We have made concessions at the table,” he told KTVU. “They (the bridge district) have told us we have met their financial needs but that’s not enough…The membership of the coalition is pretty upset.”
But for commuters, the strike caused some hardships.
The labor action prompted the bridge district to shut down the ferry service between San Francisco and Sausalito and Larkspur until Tuesday afternoon. Service will resume from Sausalito at 1:55 p.m. and from Larkspur at 2:15 p.m., Currie said.
Jeff Bergholt was forced to drive into the city for work from his home in Ross.
“I’m going to drive like a lot of people,” he told KTVU. “It’s a little upsetting…but we’re entrepreneurial. We’ll get around it.”