Occupiers trash Whole Foods & banks, occupy building, fight police & set fires to barricades — Oakland, CA
Anti-Wall Street protesters in Oakland have vandalized a Whole Foods store and shattered windows at two downtown banks.
Windows were shattered at a Bank of America branch, where someone also spraypainted “Class War” and “Shut it Down,” near Lake Merritt and a Chase bank at 20th and Webster streets.
Police officers on Wednesday afternoon stood outside the Chase bank, where vandals also defaced the ATM machines, spraypainting them black.
“For the Commune,” one graffiti message reads.
“Withdraw Only,” another reads.
Sheila Dvorak, 29, was visiting Oakland from upstate New York and geared up for a peaceful march Wednesday evening to the Port of Oakland to voice her concerns about healthcare.
She stood somewhat stunned near the shattered Chase bank windows.
“I think the root of the movement is peaceful,” said Dvorak, who marched across the Brooklyn Bridge with Occupy Wall Street last month. “I would ask whoever broke these windows to remember that. It’s the only way we’ll get what we want.”
“This doesn’t feel right,” she added. “It’s not what I expected.”
As she spoke, someone posted another sign on the busted window: “We are better than this.”
An axe-wielding vandal broke several windows at the Oakland Whole Foods Market, said company spokeswoman Jennifer Marples. In addition, the word “strike” was spray on an outside window, and the building was splashed with paint.
The company closed the store down at about 3:30 p.m., and security guards escorted workers to their cars, she said.
“Nobody was hurt,” she said. “Everyone, customers and team members, were all safe and sound. “Security is still there and will be there throughout the evening.”
Police estimated the number of marchers at about 1,000, while organizers said the number was closer to double that.
In signing off from our day-long coverage of the General Strike Day in Oakland yesterday, we noted the “younger and more aggressive crowds” heading into the streets just before 10 p.m. And, perhaps predictably — though not with the blessing of the largely peaceful and non-destructive Occupy movement — the situation turned ridiculous and anarchic in the late-night hours, around 11 p.m., when a small faction occupied a vacant building at 16th and Broadway, hoisted an “Occupy Everything” banner onto its windows, and set fire to a large pile of trash in the street outside, sending flames fifteen feet in the air, as the Chron reports. Though riot police kept their distance, fearing more bad press, they moved right on in with the tear gas and flash bombs after one cop was hit in his face mask with a bottle.
As Oakland North reports, the OPD put out a press release at 10:30 p.m. identifying a “small group of anarchists” working their way through the crowd, and stating, “OPD is focused on preventing illegal activity while affording the majority their rights to assemble and march.”
In one photo, one such demonstrator/anarchist holds a sign that says “Occupy the Building - No Surrender.”
In the end, with about 500 people in the street and what police saw as a public safety hazard (the large fire, and anarchists breaking up cinder blocks into smaller chunks to use as projectiles), they moved in and ordered everyone to disperse. Many didn’t, and after a long standoff with police, about a dozen people were arrested at 1:30 a.m. near San Pablo and 16th Street. Cops noted that they had been attacked with thrown hammers, rocks, bottles, and metal pipes. “This begged action,” says Sgt. Chris Bolton, chief of staff to interim Chief Howard Jordan. “We [reacted] to the situation provided to us.”