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Oakland May Day Protests Marred By Vandalism To Businesses, Cars On Auto Row

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- A May Day protest and march through the streets of Downtown Oakland turned violent Friday evening, with some businesses and cars being vandalized.

Friday's protest began peacefully. About 500 people protesting several issues, from police brutality to capitalism, marched from Frank Ogawa Plaza and eventually up Broadway. Later on, vandals went on a rampage. They broke windows of business and vehicles and set a car on fire on the Broadway Auto Row.

One of the marchers said she was okay with vandalism that targeted big business.

"I see it like a game of chess and if one day we can throw rocks at police, right or wrong, however you feel about it, then that's a day we took a stand. And that, in my mind, to some extent, is a win against the system," Melissa Crosby said.

It is unclear if any arrests were made Friday night.

The march was called in solidarity with Baltimore, where residents have been protesting the death in police custody of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died of a severe neck injury. The six officers involved in the case were charged Friday.

• RELATED: San Francisco May Day Protesters Denounce Low Wages, Police Brutality, Evictions

Oakland May Day Marchers
Protesters during a May Day march in Oakland on May 1, 2015. (CBS)

May Day demonstrations in Oakland began during the noon hour Friday when about 500 people gathered in front of Oakland City Hall to protest against police brutality and low wages for workers.

Many of the participants marched to the protest at Frank Ogawa Plaza from the Port of Oakland, where a 9 a.m. rally organized by International Longshore Warehouse Union Local 10 focused on police killings of unarmed people of color.

The march downtown was peaceful, although the large crowd, which was escorted by Oakland police, occasionally blocked traffic.

The ILWU, which says it has a history of standing up against racial injustice, moved its monthly labor meeting to Friday, which effectively shut down operations at the port until the evening.

The Port of Oakland said vessel operations would resume at 7 p.m. Friday night, when second-shift employees reported for work, loading and unloading ships that are tied up at berths.

At Frank Ogawa Plaza, the people who participated in the Port of Oakland rally were joined by city of Oakland workers who belong to Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and are seeking better wages and benefits.

Gary Jimenez, SEIU Local 1021's East Bay vice president, said, "We're all in the same struggle against the racial brutality and economic brutality that's hit our communities."

Jimenez said the union is especially concerned about the city of Oakland's increased use of temporary part-time workers instead of hiring more full-time permanent workers.

The number of part-time workers increased 150 percent from 2008 to 2014, from 1,000 to 2,500, Jimenez said.

A disproportionately high number of those workers are black and live in Oakland, he said.

Focusing on police brutality, of the Onyx Organizing Committee and the Anti Police Terror Project said, "We should eradicate police terrorism in our communities" and called for police departments to rid themselves of assault weapons.

Many of the speakers at the Port of Oakland and Frank Ogawa Plaza were family members of Bay Area youths who have been killed by police officers.

Wanda Johnson, the mother of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Hayward man who was killed by a BART police officer on the platform of the Fruitvale station in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009, said, "Actions such as this one must continue."

Johnson said, "All lives matter and we demand to be treated equally."

She said, "What happened to Oscar is unacceptable."

Richard Perez Jr. the father of 24-year-old Richard "Pedie" Perez, who was fatally shot by a Richmond police officer last Sept. 14, said, "Police are killing our young kids and it's just not right."

Perez said police "shouldn't have special rights" and alleged that officers engage in "a code of silence" that results in good officers failing to report the misconduct of bad officers.

TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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