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Oakland: Tension Increases as Protesters Gather for Rally

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday May 01, 2012 - 01:08:00 PM

The interaction between police and Occupy Oakland protesters has grown tense in downtown Oakland, where demonstrators have gathered for a rally that began at noon.  

Shortly before 12:30 p.m., dozens of officers in riot gear were at the intersection of 14th and Broadway, and several loud bangs were heard. It was not immediately clear whether the bangs were caused by the firing of tear gas canisters, or other activity.  

A window had been smashed on a van belonging to local TV station CBS5 that was parked at the intersection of 14th and Broadway.  

Police spokeswoman Johnna Watson had arrived at the scene but said she did not yet know whether any arrests had been made.  

She said police want to allow protesters to demonstrate peacefully, but that there is a contingent within the crowd that seems to be seeking confrontation with officers. 

"We want to remove them so everyone else can protest peacefully," she said.  

Several hundred protesters marched through downtown this morning in preparation for the noon rally, which is one of many May Day demonstrations planned throughout the Bay Area today.  

Shortly before 11:30 a.m., about 30 protesters were dancing to music in the middle of the street at 14th Street and Broadway. 

Police have blocked off streets, and traffic is being rerouted. AC Transit buses are being detoured around the area.  

Oakland police have been preparing for today's protests, and said some planned marches and rallies have permits but others do not. 

"We will not tolerate destruction or violence," city officials said in a news release this morning.  

Many of the protests in Oakland, including a march that starts at 3 p.m. at the Fruitvale BART station, are expected to converge at Frank Ogawa Plaza around 6 p.m.  

City offices remain open for business today.