It appeared protesters and gas mask-wearing police officers would clash again Saturday night on Oakland streets, four days after a violent police crackdown shoved the Occupy Oakland movement into the international spotlight, but, just as emotions peaked, organizers held up peace signs.
Marchers turned around, patted themselves on the back and returned to their adopted home, Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.
Saturday’s near-confrontation happened on another roller-coaster day for Occupy Oakland: Someone created and circulated a fake letter and website in the name of Jean Quan, the embattled mayor; protesters planned for a citywide work stoppage Wednesday; and an injured war veteran and protester changed hospitals.
night appeared set to spiral out of control shortly after 8 p.m. as an anti-police violence rally wrapped up and protesters picked up signs and headed toward Oakland Police Department headquarters.
Officers had not been seen all day, but lines of riot police wearing gas masks began flanking the marchers until Seventh and Clay streets, less than two blocks from police headquarters. Marchers stopped and began taunting the police, but just as emotions reached a fevered pitch, organizers announced: “Peace people to the front!” Numerous march organizers walked in between the police and protesters, faced the marchers and held up peace signs with both hands.
After a few minutes, the march retraced its steps and snaked its way back inthe direction of the tent city.
Sporadically, on the return to the plaza, protesters tagged anti-cop graffiti with spray paint and smashed parking meters despite organizers’ pleas, and as they returned to City Hall someone busted a window of the Oakland police recruitment center. Police appeared to escort the group from afar and did not intervene.
The rest of Saturday was not nearly as tense, but Quan’s difficult week continued as someone created a fake website and circulated a bogus letter on city letterhead with her forged signature, saying the mayor apologized for “ordering” last week’s “violent repression” of the first Occupy Oakland camp.
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