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Occupy Oakland protesters clash with police

Updated at 5:03 a.m. Eastern

OAKLAND, Calif. - Police and protesters supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement clashed downtown following a day of peaceful protests throughout Oakland.

The confrontation began after protesters started a large bonfire in the middle of a downtown street. Dozens of police in riot gear moved in on hundreds of protesters as the flames leaped more than 15 feet in the air from several large metal and plastic trash bins that had been pushed together.

Police warned protesters to clear out before firing several rounds of tear gas and "flash bang" grenades to clear the area.

A reporter for CBS Radio station KCBS saw at least 30 arrested protesters being led away by police.

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In the aftermath of the police actions, protesters with cloth wrapped around their faces to protect them from the stench of the gas marched through the area chanting, "Whose streets? Our streets."

Some marchers wore gas masks.

Glass covered streets and sidewalks from windows of area businesses that were shattered.

Graffiti on the wall next to one of the damaged shops read, "This act of vandalism was not authorized by the general assembly. Peaceful protest."

Shortly after the clash, police and protesters separated by only a few feet stared each other down in a tense standoff. A few dozen people sat on the ground right in front of officers, some with their heads bowed as if in prayer.

There were scores of police in riot gear on the scene, about as many officers as demonstrators.

The clash and subsequent standoff came only hours after Occupy Wall Street protesters declared victory after thousands of demonstrators shut down one of the nation's busiest shipping ports late Wednesday, escalating a movement whose tactics had largely been limited to marches, rallies and tent encampments since it began in September.

Occupy Oakland port
Occupy Oakland demonstrators stand on top of a parked semi truck as thousands marched from downtown Oakland, Calif., to the port of Oakland, Nov. 2, 2011. AP

The nearly 5-hour protest at the Port of Oakland, the nation's fifth-busiest shipping port, was intended to highlight a daylong "general strike" in the city, which prompted solidarity rallies in New York, Los Angeles and other cities across the nation.

Police estimated that a crowd of about 3,000 had gathered at the port at the height of the demonstration around dusk. Some had marched from the city's downtown, while others had been bused to the port.

The demonstrations in Oakland were largely peaceful until the evening skirmish.

Meanwhile, several hundred Occupy Seattle demonstrators protested in the rain Wednesday night outside a hotel where JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was invited to speak.

Police used pepper spray to clear a side entrance so Sheraton Seattle Hotel patrons could enter or leave, The Seattle Times reported.

Six protesters were arrested Wednesday afternoon for criminal trespass and obstructing at a Chase Bank branch in a Seattle neighborhood.

Police also used pepper spray on that earlier crowd when at least 10 officers were physically assaulted while putting the arrested protesters in a paddy wagon, police spokesman Jeff Kappel said. At least two officers suffered minor injuries, he said.

Police did not immediately return a call Wednesday night to say whether they made any arrests outside the Sheraton.

Dimon was the keynote speaker at a University of Washington Foster School of Business leadership celebration.

Occupy Seattle demonstrators say Dimon is an example of an overpaid executive responsible for foreclosures and questionable corporate behavior.

"Shame on Chase" was a popular chant among protesters outside the hotel.

And in New York City, the home of the Occupy Wall Street movement, thousands of U.S. military veterans heeded the rallying cry on Wednesday, saying corporate contractors in Iraq made big money while the troops defending them came home - and can't make a living now.

"For too long, our voices have been silenced, suppressed and ignored in favor of the voices of Wall Street and the banks and the corporations," said Joseph Carter, a 27-year-old Iraq war veteran who marched Wednesday to Zuccotti Park, the epicenter of the movement that has spread worldwide.

The former Army sergeant from Seattle spoke to fellow Occupy protesters and passersby on Broadway after joining about 100 veterans marching in uniform from the Vietnam Veterans Plaza through Manhattan's financial district nearby.

Their unemployment rate outstrips the national average and is expected to worsen. They worry about preservation of First Amendment rights. And they're angry.

A week before Veterans Day, generations of former U.S. military men and women threw their considerable weight behind the Occupy movement born in mid-September when about 100 protesters also marched in the Wall Street area.