On the morning of May 1, 2012, several citizen journalist organized to provide media coverage of the planned Occupy May Day events around the San Francisco Bay Area. We met in San Francisco at 6am to see what would come of the combined Golden Gate Transit Authority and Occupy strike on the district. Originally the Golden Gate bridge was to be shut down during the morning commute.
John J rode with the bike brigade who were to support the city wide strikes, Rich L and Jack W went to the main gathering point at City Hall, Sally Z and Gini C were across the bay at the ferry terminal in Larkspur, and Glenn G, Georgine C, Garnet G, Paul F and I were at the Ferry building. We covered what we could, but this turned out to be nothing more than a union strike as Occupy had apparently abandoned the strikers at the Ferry building. So we decided to go across the bay to Oakland to catch the noon time “events”.
We arrived at 11:30 and with two camera teams began to interview some people. There were about 700 spread out around Frank Ogawa Plaza (the original “Occupy Oakland” landing zone) and in the adjoining streets. Mostly “hippie” types ranging from liberal to full blown communist between 20 and 50 were there, but there was also a large presence of the “Black Bloc” demolition team, identifiable by their black dress, backpacks, black flags (on 3/4″ steel poles), masks and shields.
There was tension in the air, and I did not see much of an organized presence in the plaza. We were there about 20 minutes when all hell broke loose. The police arrested some of the protesters (not sure for what) but they must have had a good reason. Flash bangs were going off and some tear gas. The street quickly filled with angry protesters and the rest is in the video!
I intentionally left the video long (19 minutes) so you could get a feeling of what it was like to be there and see for yourself what this Occupy movement has become.
I have to say that the Oakland Police, joined by other local law enforcement including the CHP, the Sheriffs and others, handled the situation in a restrained, professional manner, as I have always seen them do at these occupy events. Even though they were continually badgered, spit at, cursed at and assaulted with flying objects and paint balls, they remained cool and calm. As always, the occupiers claim that the police attacked them for no reason, beating and arresting them in the process. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We shot many more events during the day and I will post them as soon as I can.