Several thousand “Occupy Oakland” protesters on Wednesday night shut down the California city’s port, one of the busiest in the United States.
Some 5,000 people joined the protest, organizers said, in a strong start for the strike, called after police raided the group’s downtown encampment last week and later clashed with protesters in teargas-choked streets.
The massive protest, which organizers claimed brought nearly 20,000 people onto the street in total, caused a number of businesses and banks to shut down.
“Our government is being bought by corporations,” said Bruso, a Service Employees International Union member, told KTVU.com. “The middle class and lower class are being subjugated.
He explained the shutdown of the Port of Oakland “sends a message to the corporate world that we’re not going to sit by and take it anymore.”
The vast majority of the protesters remained peaceful, but a small group of black bloc protesters defaced ATMs and broke windows at Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase Bank branches as the protesters marched through downtown, according to the Oakland Tribune.
A group of protesters also vandalized a Whole Foods store and someone spray-painted “fuck” on the side of the Christ the Light Cathedral.
There were no reports of arrests.
Mayor Jean Quan, criticized for her handling of the protests, issued a statement calling for calm — and by early afternoon the mood remained peaceful.
“Police Chief (Howard) Jordan and I are dedicated to respecting the right of every demonstrator to peacefully assemble, but it is our duty to prioritize public safety,” she said.
In contrast to last week, there was a minimal police presence.
Media reports and protest organizers claimed that work at the Port of Oakland was disrupted by strike action from early in the day, well ahead of the planned evening march on the port.