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Oakland Police Order May Day Protesters To Leave; SF Building Occupied

OAKLAND (CBS SF) - Oakland police have moved the remaining May Day protesters away from downtown, but resorting to using at least one round of tear gas for the second time in a day.

Police Chief Howard Jordan said that after warning several hundred protesters they were assembling unlawfully and would be gassed if they didn't disperse, officers managed to push those who did not leave on their own more than 12 blocks away from the plaza outside City Hall.

At least two thousand people participated peacefully earlier Tuesday night in a May Day protest at the plaza before the crowd dwindled and a few people started throwing bottles, prompting police to respond with the gas.

[ Occupy May Day | Oakland ]
[ Occupy May Day | SF ]

Police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly and issued the order to disperse around 8:40 p.m. as officers in riot gear moved in on the crowds.

Earlier in the day, officers fired tear gas and "flash-bang" grenades to disperse protesters converging on police as they wrestled people to the ground while trying to make arrests.

Jordan said at least 23 people were taken into custody during the course of the day, including one for setting a police car on fire, police said.

Jordan said earlier Tuesday that the demonstrators were arrested for offenses ranging from vandalism to resisting arrest.

Several people were arrested in a confrontation between police and protesters near 14th Street and Broadway shortly after noon.

Jordan said the confrontation began when protesters started throwing objects at officers who were trying to make arrests and disperse the crowd.

Officers then "deployed a small amount of gas" to disperse the crowd, Jordan said. He did not specify whether it was tear gas.

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He said Oakland police called in mutual aid at 9 a.m. because they observed that there were "multiple, simultaneous events" that were stretching the department's resources thin.

The agencies providing the aid include the Hayward, Fremont, Union City and Newark police departments, the California Highway Patrol and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.

Hundreds of protesters began marching through downtown Tuesday morning in preparation for the noon May Day rally in the area of 14th Street and Broadway and Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Shortly before 11:30 a.m., about 30 protesters were dancing to music in the middle of the intersection.

About an hour later, dozens of officers in riot gear were at the intersection, and several loud bangs were heard.

Demonstrators had smashed the windshield and slashed a tire on a van belonging to CBS 5 that was parked at 14th and Broadway.

CBS 5 van
The windshield on a CBS 5 news van appears shattered during Occupy protests at Broadway and 14th Ave. in Oakland, May 1, 2012. (CBS)

Police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said protesters had surrounded the van while a reporter was inside. Reporter Christin Ayers was not hurt in the confrontation.

"That's unacceptable," Watson said of the incident. "The Oakland Police Department won't tolerate violence against other protesters or news media or police."

Later in the afternoon, police sent out an email asking media not to park near 14th Street and Broadway.

Oakland police have been preparing for Tuesday's protests, and said some planned marches and rallies have permits but others do not.

"We will not tolerate destruction or violence," city officials said in a news release Tuesday morning.

Oakland-based rapper Boots Riley spoke at the noon rally, saying the purpose of Tuesday's protests is to rally "for the workers and for the people who are fighting for their rights."

He described the demonstrations as part of a "militant radical labor movement to change society so we get the profits we helped create."

A 30-year-old Oakland man who declined to give his name but said he is an unemployed airplane mechanic said he came to the rally "to protest economic injustice and corporate greed and the police state we're existing in now."

In San Francisco, officers in riot gear withdrew from their position Tuesday night in front of a building occupied by protesters after facing off with activists for several hours.

Officers arrested two protesters during Tuesday's demonstration at 888 Turk St., police said.

Ken Bastida was on the scene at Church and Gough Streets Tuesday when a protester was caught on video throwing bricks from the roof of an occupied building.

The protester, dressed in black with a handkerchief covering his face, was also throwing what appeared to be metal rods into the crowd of demonstrators, reporters, and police.

Jesse Nesbitt, 34, of San Francisco was arrested after he allegedly threw bricks and other projectiles from the roof of the building, police Sgt. Michael Andraychak said.

One of the bricks missed a police officer and struck a protester, who refused medical attention, and another projectile damaged a police vehicle, Andraychak said.

Nesbitt is facing charges of aggravated assault, aggravated assault of a police officer and felony vandalism, police said.

Another protester, Adam Delia, 24, was cited and released on suspicion of being a pedestrian in the roadway and disobeying a traffic officer, Andraychak said.

Police said Delia went into the street and tried to pick up a piece of brick that had been thrown from the roof.

Earlier in the evening, a handful of protestors sat cross-legged between police lines and the front of the building, while other protestors remained inside the building and in Jefferson Square Park, across the street.

The occupation began when protesters who had gathered for a noon rally at Market and Montgomery streets downtown marched to 888 Turk St. afterward and began entering the building shortly before 3 p.m.

The building is the same site, owned by the Archdiocese of San Francisco, that was taken over by protesters on April 1.

Protesters removed a large wire fence in front of the building and activists streamed into the building this afternoon, holding banners and signs reading "May Day, Never Surrender" and "SF Commune."

California State University East Bay student Erik Carson, 26, of San Francisco said he was there to support the Occupy movement.

"I don't believe anyone should be denied the right to housing," he said.

Police Sgt. Mike Andraychak said earlier Tuesday that the protesters were trespassing on private property.

"We've been in touch with the folks at the archdiocese. We're in communication with them right now," Andraychak said.

Two buses filled with officers in riot gear arrived at the building around 4:30 p.m. and dozens of officers mobilized in front of the building.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco, The Associated Press and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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