You are hereAl Jazeera: Police clash with 'Occupy Oakland' protesters

Al Jazeera: Police clash with 'Occupy Oakland' protesters

Police fire tear gas and stun grenades on "Occupy Oakland" protesters as activists bring port operations to a halt.

November 3, 2011- Police have fired tear gas at protesters from the "Occupy Oakland" movement in the US city of Oakland in California.

Thursday's clashes followed a peaceful rally which shut down Oakland's port, the fifth busiest cargo facility in the country.

Protesters called for a general strike to protest economic conditions and police brutality.

An estimated 5,000 people gathered for the demonstration against what they call corporate greed.

The port, which handles about $39bn a year in imports and exports, stopped operations after being swarmed by thousands of the marchers.

While the city was not shut down by the protest, as had been the aim of the demonstrators, many businesses chose to remain closed on Wednesday.

"At this time, maritime operations are effectively shut down at the Port of Oakland. Maritime area operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so," a spokesman for the port said in a statement.

Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds, reporting from Oakland, said the mostly peaceful events had been marred by sporadic "scuffles and fistfights" between protesters.

Reynolds said some young, black-clad protesters had tried to break windows and spray graffiti on banks and markets, while other groups tried to prevent them from doing so.

"What been really striking is the almost complete absence of police presence. We have seen very, very few policemen and there were no policemen there when demonstrators were throwing rocks and breaking windows," Reynolds said.

"It's almost like the police have withdrawn from the streets."

Teacher walkout

Local labour leaders, while generally sympathetic to the protesters, said their contracts prohibited them from proclaiming an official strike.

Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said about 40 out of 325 unionized port workers had stayed off the job.

"There was no call for a strike by the union," he said. City officials also said schools and government offices were remaining open.

Oakland school officials said about 360 teachers did not show up for work, roughly 18 per cent of the district's teaching staff.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement that she supported the goals of the protest movement but the city has a duty to ensure public safety.



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