Police and protesters in Oakland continue to do battle into the early morning hours on Thursday, in what has become the most confrontational of the Occupy demonstrations.
Early in the evening on Wednesday the demonstration reached its peak, when between 5,000-10,000 people shut down the entire port of Oakland for several hours by blocking gates and not allowing truck traffic in or out. Despite some earlier vandalism, the protest was mostly peaceful and no arrests were made.
However, as Wednesday turned into Thursday and a few hundred remaining protesters continued to roam the city streets, police moved in, creating clashes between cops in riot gear and some demonstrators. As of about 1:00 a.m. PDT, reports were coming in of tear gas and flash bang canisters going and at least one person being shot with rubber bullets.
Earlier in the night there was also an incident in which two protesters were hit by a car, possibly intentionally, after they blocked a driver's path and one man appeared to bang on the hood.The incident was caught on this cell phone footage, via NBC Bay Area:
Rumors briefly circulated online that one of the pedestrians was killed and the driver was allowed to go free, but the injuries were not life threatening. The driver was allowed to leave the scene after being questioned, perhaps for their own safety, as protesters swarmed to the scene. That incident may have contributed to the escalating tensions.
Occupy organizers had called for a general strike on Wednesday, and while most of the city remained opened, some businesses remained closed during the day and about 300 public school teachers called in sick.
When the sun comes up on the Thursday, it's will be interesting to see how the city responds to this latest round of demonstrations. The small group of instigators targeting business with graffiti and smashed windows, threaten to undermine the mostly positive response the Occupy movement has received from the general public, but the police also risk crossing their own line by being overly aggressive.
It's also interesting to note how the Occupy movements in various cities, tend to take on the character of those cities.