It was May Day and Oakland was bathed in sunshine. Union workers staged militant actions; immigrants and allies marched for justice with brass bands and drummers; spontaneous street parties erupted.
There was also tear gas, flash bang grenades, screams, vandalism and arrests on Oakland Streets.
"Today, as we stand in solidarity with labor, as we stand in solidarity with immigrant workers, as we strike against this exploitative economic system, we also stand up to police violence and state repression," Laleh Behbehanian of the Occupy Oakland Anti- Repression Committee told a rally in Oscar Grant Plaza, the space renamed by protesters for a young unarmed African American man killed by a transit police officer.
Behbehanian went on to say that Oakland sometimes gets blamed for over-focusing on police violence and "diverting the occupy movement away from its original goals."
She addressed critics, saying, "Oakland has always stood to remind this country and the larger Occupy Movement, that the unfair economic system we protest is maintained every day by massive police violence and military violence all over this world....
"Whenever there is an unjust economic system, there is a police state to defend it....Today that police state is showing its face all over the world. But all over the world, from Oakland to Cairo, from New York to Syria, people are standing up."
The midday rally got off to a late start, delayed by a police action. According to one protester, "hundreds of people were just hanging out a 14th and Broadway; everything was chill." They were waiting for a convergence of several small morning marches protesting banks and various businesses.
Suddenly, police "snatched" a woman from her bicycle as she came into the intersection, the protester said, adding, "Really ...