Flash: Thousands Converge at Oakland City Center Tonight

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday May 01, 2012 - 06:03:00 PM

Thousands of protesters who marched the streets of Oakland have converged at Frank Ogawa Plaza this evening.

Multiple marches met in the plaza shortly before 7 p.m. and jubilant demonstrators were waving flags, playing drums, making speeches and dancing in the streets.

As of 7 p.m. at least 10 protesters had been arrested during the day of demonstrations, according to police Sgt. Jeff Thomason. 

Police Chief Howard Jordan said earlier today that the demonstrators were arrested for offenses ranging from vandalism to resisting arrest. 

Several people were arrested in a confrontation between police and protesters near 14th Street and Broadway shortly after noon today. 

Howard said the confrontation began when protesters started throwing objects at officers who were trying to make arrests and disperse the crowd.  

Officers then "deployed a small amount of gas" to disperse the crowd, Jordan said. He did not specify whether it was tear gas.  

He said Oakland police called in mutual aid at 9 a.m. because they observed that there were "multiple, simultaneous events" that were stretching the department's resources thin.  

The agencies providing the aid include the Hayward, Fremont, Union City and Newark police departments, the California Highway Patrol and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.  

City officials said they expect the gathering tonight to draw some 3,000 to 5,000 demonstrators and are urging motorists to stay clear of the area to avoid traffic congestion. 

BART officials said this evening that the 14th Street entrance to the Oakland City Center station was closed because of police activity but the other entrances remain open.