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Mr. Riley, whose anti-capitalist views are well documented, considered the port shutdown particularly significant for organizers, who targeted it in an effort to stop the “flow of capital.”

The port sends goods primarily to Asia, including wine as well as rice, fruits and nuts, and handles imported electronics, apparel and manufacturing equipment, mostly from Asia, as well as cars and parts from Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai.

An accounting of the financial toll from the shutdown was not immediately available.

Mr. Riley’s comments came before a group of protesters broke into the former Travelers Aid building in order to, as some shouting protesters put it, “reclaim the building for the people.”

The potential for the chaos that ultimately erupted was not something Mr. Riley wanted to even consider.

“If they do that after all this …,” he said, pausing cautiously, then adding, “They’re smarter than that.”

Occupy protesters voicing anger over a budget trim that forced the closure of a homeless aid program converged on the empty building where it had been housed just outside of downtown.

They blocked off a street with wood, metal Dumpsters and other large trash bins, sparking bonfires that leapt as high as 15 feet in the air.

City officials later released a statement describing the spasm of unrest.

Oakland Police responded to a late night call that protesters had broken into and occupied a downtown building and set several simultaneous fires,” the statement read. “The protesters began hurling rocks, explosives, bottles, and flaming objects at responding officers.”

Several businesses were heavily vandalized. Dozens of protesters wielding shields were surrounded and arrested.

Protesters ran from several rounds of tear gas and bright flashes and deafening pops that some thought were caused by “flash bang” grenades. Fire crews arrived and suppressed the protesters’ flames.

Protesters and police faced off in an uneasy standoff until the wee hours of the morning.

It is the kind of posture that Oakland is familiar with. It was the scene of violent protests in 2009 and 2010 over the killing of an unarmed black man by a white transit officer. Downtown businesses were looted, windows smashed and fires set.

Then, as now, police blamed the violence on a small group of anarchists, many from outside the city.

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