Whatever you do, don’t call them un-American.
Occupy Oakland protesters broke into City Hall, stole an American flag from the City Council chamber and set it on fire Saturday night, punctuating a wild day in which police deployed tear gas, arrested more than 200 marchers and dodged hurling objects.
Demonstrators spent the day trying to break into a convention center and temporarily occupying City Hall and a YMCA, all the while snaking around lines of riot-clad police periodically shooting bean bag projectiles, among other uses of nonlethal force.
Saturday marked the first major clashes between protesters and police since November and left three officers with minor injuries, as protesters threw bottles, metal pipes, rocks, spray cans and “improvised explosive devices,” police said.
Late Saturday, paramedics wheeled a pregnant protester away from Frank H. Ogawa Plaza after witnesses said she was hit in the kidney by a police baton. She yelled: “Police did this to me!”
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan spoke moments after the City Hall invasion, saying the city would ask for “stay away” orders against many of the protesters who have repeatedly been arrested in Oakland.
“This particular faction of Occupy … they’re very violent and I’m going to be asking for a lot more mutual aid,” Quan said, adding that the weekly marches prevent the city’s police force from patrolling other parts of Oakland. “They are hurting the neighborhoods by continuing to do this on Saturday nights.”
Occupy supporters Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi were unavailable for comment.
Seems the folks in Oakland are finally figuring out what they’re dealing with.
“This is not a situation where we had a 1,000 peaceful people and a few violent people. If you look at what’s happening today in terms of destructing property, throwing at and charging the police, it’s almost like they are begging for attention and hoping that the police will make an error.”
Quan said that at one point, many forced their way into City Hall, where they burned flags, broke an electrical box and damaged several art structures, including a recycled art exhibit created by children.
“City Hall is closed for the weekend. There is no excuse for behavior we’ve witnessed this evening,” City Council President Larry Reid said during a news briefing Saturday. “It’s just unacceptable and makes absolutely no sense for the type of behavior we’ve seen on the streets in the city of Oakland today.”
Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, echoed Reid’s sentiments and said that what was going on amounts to “domestic terrorism.”
“This is domestic terrorism and we cannot allow this to continue because something even more worse could really happen,” De La Fuente said.