Yesterday, police and Occupy protesters violently clashed in the streets of Oakland, CA.
Before dawn police raided an Occupy Oakland encampment at the plaza in front of City Hall, destroying tents, firing tear gas, and kicking out protesters who had been camped out for weeks. According to city officials, they removed protesters because of fire hazards, health concerns and violence, which included 150 tents as well as health, child-care and kitchen areas.
The early morning raid was just a first in a day full of conflict and protests.
Later in the day, as protesters attempted to march back to City Hall, they were again confronted by police in riot gear who shot off tear gas and aggressively arrested protesters.
As night fell, conflicts between police and protesters grew even more contentious. Police officials say they were pelted with rocks, bottles, and paint balls by protesters, but many protesters dispute this claim.
According to the New York Times, around 9:30 p.m.Oakland police announced that protesters should disperse the scene or risk being hit with “chemical agents.” Shortly thereafter police fired flash bang grenades and tear gas into the crowd.
According to Davey D., a local Oakland DJ and hip hop historian, police fired at least 6 rounds of tear gas into the crowd. Many protesters even accuse police of firing these allegedly non-lethal weapons directly into the crowd, targeting specific individuals.
Despite several arounds of tear gas, flash bang grenades and nearly 100 arrests, Occupy Oakland demonstrators say they will continue the protests.
Watching the protests unfold made me remember something activist Dick Gregory said just last week. When asked to compare the Occupy Wall Street Protests with the Civil Rights protests, aptly commented:
“White folks is born in America with 300 years of White privilege, so you don’t deal with that the same way you deal with people who come out of the slave pit…You got a different DNA out there today and I think this is where America is making a mistake. They don’t realize they are dealing with their children, escalated. Do you know White folks is not gonna let them put fire hoses on they children and beat them down on the ground? That’s how we won.
“We won the greatest movement in the history of the planet–that 1960s civil rights movement. But remember we wasn’t the ones that got LBJ out there, it was those White kids. And they didn’t know you couldn’t go to Kent [State University] and shoot White children like you can shoot Mexicans and Black folks.”