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Question of the Day
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — “Occupy Wall Street” supporters who staged rallies that shut down the nation’s fifth-busiest port during a day of protests condemned on Thursday the demonstrators who clashed with police in the latest flare-up of violence in this city on San Francisco Bay.
Riot police arrested dozens of protesters in the city’s downtown, where bands of demonstrators threw chunks of concrete and metal pipes as well as lit Roman candles and firebombs, police said. At least four protesters and several officers were injured.
“I think it will allow detractors to criticize the movement,” protester Hale Nicholson said.
The protest outside the Port of Oakland, which reopened Thursday, represented an escalation in tactics as a movement that had largely been about marches, rallies and tent camps targeted a major symbol of the nation’s commerce.
The violence that followed, however, raised questions about the direction of the movement and whether the clashes, so far mostly isolated in a city with a history of tensions between residents and police, will galvanize protesters or hurt their cause.
Mr. Nicholson blamed the violence on a small group of young people just there for violence: “Some kids looking to blow off some steam.”
In Los Angeles, a spokesman for the encampment there said those demonstrators don’t represent the movement.
“We are about peace. That’s the most powerful tool we have,” said Mario Jefferson of the “Occupy L.A.” encampment, noting that the movement attracts many types of people, including some prone to violence.
“We don’t want to waste energy on breaking things. We’re trying to do this thing peacefully,” he said.
The far-flung movement challenging the world’s economic systems and distribution of wealth has gained momentum in recent weeks, capturing the world’s attention as they set up tent camps from New York’s Wall Street to Los Angeles’ Skid Row.
Oakland became a rallying point last week after an Iraq War veteran was injured when protesters and riot police battled in the streets.
Organizers called for a general strike on Wednesday, and supporters in New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and elsewhere staged smaller-scale demonstrations, some in solidarity with their Oakland counterparts.
Oakland protesters viewed the strike and port shutdown as a significant victory.
Police, who had little to no presence during the protest during the day, said that about 7,000 people participated in demonstrations that were peaceful except for a few incidents of vandalism at local banks and businesses.
“We put together an ideological principle that the mainstream media wouldn’t talk about two months ago,” organizer Boots Riley said.
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