The Occupy movement’s frenetic commemoration of May Day got plenty of attention as Bay Area demonstrators came out in droves to spread the message that income disparity has created a nationwide crisis. But fallout from the labor holiday could provoke backlash from otherwise supportive observers.
Click on the photo to see more photos from the protest.
The coalition’s San Francisco and Oakland chapters have morphed since their inception, shifting from activist encampments into amorphous ideological banners — occupied themselves by labor groups, housing advocates, and shadowy anarchists.
After a kickoff event Monday night at Dolores Park, a group of protesters chanting Occupy slogans split off to launch paint bombs at the Mission Police Station and shatter the windows of small businesses on Valencia Street, along with the windows of nearly 20 cars. Organizers immediately distanced the movement from such destruction, but considering the group’s lack of clear leaders or demands, presumably anyone can claim to be acting in the name of Occupy.
Waking up to glass-strewn streets and graffiti imploring “yuppies” and “hipsters” to vacate the neighborhood, small-business owners reacted angrily.
“Nice work, occupiers,” tweeted Jeremy Tooker, owner of the popular Four Barrel Coffee. “You made me leave my sick kid at home to go clean paint bombs off my windows. That’ll show Wall Street, fellas.”
Supervisor David Campos, whose district includes the Mission, said he stopped by the police station and spoke with a recently laid-off woman whose car was hit. While Occupy rightly advocates “changes that need to be made in the system,” Campos said, the violence was misdirected.
“The vandalism that ensued ended up hurting many people that in fact I’m sure they weren’t intending to hurt,” Campos said. “Many of the small businesses that were vandalized are barely struggling to survive.”
The Mission unrest was the talk of the day, with some Occupiers decrying it as the actions of anarchists and others theorizing that it was encouraged by police or corporations to tarnish Occupy’s image.
Meanwhile, online forums were filled with left-leaning criticism of labor groups for failing to follow through on plans to hold a Monday night “sleepover” at City Hall to demand better wages and benefits, or to use Occupy tactics to shut down the Golden Gate Bridge Tuesday morning. The Service Employees International Union Local 1021 issued a press release saying it changed its plans after city workers were ordered to leave or be arrested.
“I have to wonder why this group is punishing working stiffs by causing traffic jams?” wrote Web developer Ron Lussier, who counts progressives Tom Ammiano and Norman Solomon among his Facebook friends. “Has the #occupy movement turned into a tool of anarchists? It’s definitely lost the backing of the majority of working people.”
Police, protesters clash in Oakland May Day protests
Hundreds of Oakland protesters clashed with baton-carrying police who fired flash-bang grenades and gas canisters.
Police called for aid from neighboring cities in response to raucous demonstrators who threw objects at police, tagged buildings and defied an order to disperse. Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan said at least four people were arrested.
At least 500 gathered near Frank Ogawa Plaza, closing roads to traffic as they marched.
— Wire Reports
Protests disrupt ferry service
After shutting down ferry service between Marin County and The City on Tuesday morning, labor groups now plan a bus strike May 10.
More than 100 ferry operators and supporters picketed outside of ferry terminals in Larkspur, Sausalito and San Francisco, and workers didn’t report to their duties until 2 p.m.
Meanwhile, California Highway Patrol officers policed the bridge to make sure protesters didn’t make good on a promise to block the structure.
— Will Reisman
Protests around nation take violent turn
Protesters smashed windows in Seattle, fled police on scooters in New York and canceled their plans in Cleveland during demonstrations intended to revive their movement.
Many events were peaceful, such as anti-corporate song-and-dance routines in New York. But in Seattle, 50 black-clad protesters carried black flags on sticks they used to shatter store windows. And Occupy Cleveland canceled its events after authorities announced the arrest of five anarchists there on suspicion of plotting to blow up a bridge.