Oakland Protest Turns Rowdy as Whole Foods Vandalized
Reports of property damaged in the rally have started coming in via Twitter. Some protesters (reportedly with the anarchist Black Bloc contingent) vandalized a Whole Foods minutes ago after rumors circulated the store had threatened to fire employees who left work to join the protest.
Update (9:35 p.m. EDT): With the arrival of the after-work crowd, the protest's ranks have swelled to an estimated 10,000 as the march makes its way down to the port. So far, it's peaceful. The protest's live stream shares this picture via Twitter, courtesy of ABC News:
Update (6 p.m. EDT): Reports of property damaged in the rally have started coming in via Twitter. Some protesters (reportedly with the anarchist Black Bloc contingent) vandalized a Whole Foods minutes ago after rumors circulated the store had threatened to fire employees who left work to join the protest. A tweet from Mother Jones says that "seems untrue." San Francisco Chronicle reporter Demian Bulwa tweeted this photo:
Elsewhere, protesters smashed windows at a Chase bank earlier in the afternoon Global Exchange tweeted the below photo of the damage, and someone else's handwritten disclaimer:
Original: The day-long protest that Occupy Oakland is calling a general strike got underway on Wednesday with a rumor that longshoremen had refused to allow trucks into the Port of Oakland in solidarity with the protesters, but that turned out to be false. There was a backup of the trucks, however, for an unrelated safety issue. What has happened in the protest so far is that a lot of people (5,000 by the organizers' count) have marched from Frank Ogawa Plaza downtown to various bank branches, which they've effectively shut down.
The port rumor started when trucks lined up outside the Port of Oakland around the start of work on Wednesday morning. One public radio station, KALW, tweeted a picture of the trucks as evidence the workers had stopped letting freight in. A guy described as a "recently retired business agent for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union local 10" reported to Truthout that the port had been "effectively shut down," with little traffic moving through and ships sitting idle at the docks. But it turned out the hold-up had nothing to do with the so-called strike. Rather, tweeted KALW, it came down to a dispute over refrigerated containers. On Monday, the local ABC affiliate reported that workers had refused to unload certain refrigerated containers that were improperly serviced in Vietnam, some of which have already exploded in Vietnam, China, and Brazil. So there was a little work stoppage, it seems, but it was unrelated to Occupy Oakland.
Some in Oakland, however, did stop working as protesters occupied bank branches including a Wells Fargo at 12th and Broadway, and a Chase at Franklin and Berkeley. The New York Times' Malia Wollen tweeted this photo of demonstrators making their presence felt at Wells Fargo:
So far, there haven't been any reports of clashes with police. In fact, the Oakland Tribune reported that "no one has spotted a uniformed police officer since dawn."