OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Hundreds of May Day protesters decried racism, police brutality and income inequality on Friday in a plaza outside Oakland City Hall.
It was one of several peaceful demonstrations by labor, immigrant and civil rights activists in cities across California, though by late Friday a small group of protesters in Oakland broke windows of banks, bars, fast food restaurants and car dealerships.
The protest in Oakland started with a loud, sign-waving march from the Port of Oakland to Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland, where it ended peacefully.
Some of the demonstrators held signs reading “Racism is the Disease,” ”Black Lives Matter” and “Stop Police Brutality.” Others said they wanted better wages and working conditions for the masses.
Maisha Davis, 29, a medical student at University of California, San Francisco, is a member of White Coats for Black Lives.
“I’m here to support people for May Day,” she told the San Jose Mercury News. “Police brutality impacts us all.”
Across the bay, about 100 people gathered at Civic Center in San Francisco for a May Day rally and then marched to the Mission neighborhood.
Later Friday, a group of about 300 people marched through downtown Oakland and protesters smashed windows and drew graffiti on businesses along the way, said Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson. She said no one had been arrested and that the march was ongoing Friday evening.
Protesters yelled, “Baltimore, we got your back!” and hurled expletives at police. They set a trash can on fire and threw bottles at buildings as police in half a dozen cars and vans followed without intervening, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
A splinter group smashed multiple vehicles and set at least one car on fire at several dealerships on Oakland’s Auto Row. A video posted on the Twitter account for Occupy Oakland shows a protester inside an auto dealership breaking the windows of a car.
There were no immediate reports of arrests.
The annual May Day rallies have their roots in workers’ rights, but events in recent years have been a rallying point for immigrant-rights groups and other causes.
This year, the use of force by police is a major focus following a series of incidents in which black men died in violent encounters with officers.
In Los Angeles, police kept watch as several hundred protesters gathered downtown to promote various causes, including a $15-an-hour minimum wage, immigrant rights and opposition to police violence.
Harberth Godinez, 25, of Los Angeles, a college student who was born in Guatemala, supported raising the minimum wage.
“There are a lot of families that earn the minimum wage and have two, three kids and they can’t live with what they earn,” he said. “That’s not right.”
Activists in Anaheim and in Murrieta marched for legislation allowing millions of immigrants in the country illegally to apply for permanent legal residence.
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