As Occupy Oakland's after-dark chaos overshadowed the daytime calm in headlines, many in the movement have started to fear their message is getting drowned out by those bent on little more than destruction. Until it degenerated into chaos late at night one of the defining characteristics of Wednesday's Oakland protest was the noticeable absence of uniformed police amid the peaceful march. But as a small minority of black-masked anarchists known as the Black Bloc vandalized stores and later set fires and stormed buildings, many activists on Twitter bemoaned the fact that those incidents, not the large-scale protest, would dominate headlines. And they did.
The Occupy Oakland website boasted on Wednesday that, "as of 8 p.m. the police remained hidden out of sight." But the cops came out in force later as some protesters took over buildings and started fires. They arrested some 60 people and reportedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the remaining crowd. After several thousand people peacefully marched to the port to close it down with their presence, the night's chaos (and some during the day, which we'll address later) came down to a few bad actors, but it was the focus of many next-day stories, to activists' chagrin. The New York Times, Guardian, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post all led their coverage with mentions of police lobbing tear gas at protesters, and illustrated it with images of burning dumpsters and broken, spray-painted windows.