Occupy Oakland turns violent; police, protestors clash

Dozens of police in riot gear and hundreds of protesters supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement clashed in downtown Oakland on Oct. 25, with authorities using tear gas to respond to demonstrators' repeated agitations.

The latest such skirmish came around 11:15 PDT in front of City Hall, where a haze of chemical smoke still hung in the air following several similar clashes at the site over the course of the night.

It was the fifth time in about three hours that police fired a volley of tear gas to disperse a crowd at the scene where ongoing tension has erupted into conflict throughout the day.

The number of protesters diminished with each round of gas until about 200 remained late Tuesday.

Police had established a presence in a plaza where a pre-dawn raid dismantled an encampment of Occupy Wall Street protesters that had dominated the area for more than two weeks.   

Authorities removed about 170 demonstrators who had been staying in the area overnight after repeatedly being warned that such a camp was illegal and they faced arrest by remaining. City officials said 97 people were arrested in the morning raid.

The protesters had gathered at a downtown library, marched toward City Hall and ultimately were met by police officers in riot gear. Several small fights broke out and officers cleared the area by firing tear gas.

The scene repeated itself several times after. Each time officers moved to disperse the crowd, protesters quickly gathered again. Tensions rose as protesters edged closer to the police line and climaxed when someone threw a bottle or rock and authorities responded with volleys of gas.

Police have denied reports that they used flash bang canisters to help break up the crowds, saying the loud noises came from large firecrackers thrown at police by protesters.

Helicopters scanned the area late Tuesday and scores of officers wearing helmets and carrying clubs patrolled the streets. Fire crews responded to small blazes in trash containers.

"This movement is more than just the people versus the police," Mario Fernandez said. "It's about the people trying to have their rights to basic services … This crowd isn't going anywhere anytime soon."

Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan told reporters at a late night news conference that authorities had no other choice, saying the protesters were throwing rocks and bottles          at officers.

"We had to deploy gas to stop the crowd," he said, according to a KCBS report.

City officials said that two officers were injured. At least five protesters were arrested and several others injured in the evening clashes, including one veteran of Iraq.

The Oakland site was among numerous camps that have sprung up around the country, as protesters rally against corporate greed, among other issues.

Source: The Associated Press