Wednesday’s Occupy Oakland general strike began at 9 am and continued until early the next morning. According to the City Administrator’s Office, the demonstrations were “primarily peaceful protests with some isolated incidents of violence and vandalism.” Nearly 10,000 people took part in the protests, 300 of which were teachers from the Oakland Unified School District, said Troy Flint, Director of Public Relations for OUSD. From 7 am to midnight, there were no arrests and the general strike consisted of mostly marches, rallies, and music performances.
However, after midnight, a number of isolated incidents occurred throughout the area, including property vandalism, lighting fires, and police assaults. A total of 80 preliminary arrests were made, and five civilians and three police officers were injured, according to the City Administrator’s Office website. Tear gas and beanbags were then used to motivate protesters to leave the area.
A substantial number of businesses were vandalized or sprayed with graffiti throughout the day. According to the City Administrator’s Office, Chase Bank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Whole Foods Market were vandalized in the afternoon, incurring damages such as broken windows and tagging, followed by more buildings that evening. Buildings at 150 and 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, as well as the BART entrance at Broadway and 12th Street, were tagged with graffiti, and the windows of Tully’s Coffee, the ground floor of City Hall, the Oakland Police Department, and the Cypress Security offices in the plaza were broken. Protesters also removed 30 square feet of paving stones (about 70 stones) from Frank Ogawa Plaza near the fountain.
A number of downtown AC Transit bus lines were re-routed last night, said AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson, because of the crowd which blocked the streets. However, this did not create a problem for riders, he said, because the organization sent out emails, twitter notifications, and Facebook posts warning users of the rerouted bus lines roughly two days before the Wednesday strike.
At 6:15 p.m., the Port of Oakland closed and was reopened this morning at 11 a.m. According to field reports, there were no injuries, no property damage, and no major security breeches, said Robert Bernardo, the manager of media and public relations for the Port. An estimated 11,000 workers lost wages as a result of the port closure, which is normally open 24 hours. The economic impact of the closure was also severe, and an estimated $4 million in revenue was lost as a result of the 12-hour closure.
All City offices have returned to regular business hours today, streets are open, and transit is running as scheduled.