Oakland demonstrators vowed on Wednesday to return to their protest site just hours after police cleared hundreds of people from the streets with tear gas and bean bag rounds.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland demonstrators vowed on Wednesday to return to their protest site just hours after police cleared hundreds of people from the streets with tear gas and bean bag rounds.
A Twitter feed used by Oakland's Occupy Wall Street movement called on protesters to return to downtown at 6 p.m. for another round, and some demonstrators vowed to return as soon as possible.
Max Alper, 31, a union organizer from Berkeley, gathered with a handful of other protesters Wednesday at the scene of Tuesday night's clash.
"As soon as these barricades are moved, hundreds of people are going to come back. These actions by police were wrong, but they're just going to strengthen the movement," Alper said.
Alper was arrested Tuesday morning when he went to witness the police raid on the Occupy Oakland encampment outside City Hall, he said. He said his arm was injured when baton-swinging police descended on him and other protesters.
Standing with about two dozen other Occupy supporters near the plaza, 49-year-old Nsomeka Gomes of Oakland said she felt the effects of the tear gas Tuesday but planned to be back to march Wednesday night nonetheless.
"I'm going to keep supporting the reoccupation. This is the peoples' plaza," Gomes said.
On Wednesday morning, the city had erected a chain-link fence around the plaza, and workers were mowing the grass and sweeping up remnants of the encampment that was dismantled Tuesday morning.
After the encampment was cleared, protesters began marching toward City Hall in an attempt to re-establish a presence in the area of the disbanded camp.
They were met by police officers in riot gear. Several small skirmishes broke out and officers cleared the area by firing tear gas.
The scene repeated itself several times just a few blocks away in front of the plaza, where police set up behind metal barricades, preventing protesters from gaining access to the site.
Tensions built as protesters edged ever closer to the police line, and reached a breaking point when a demonstrator hurled a bottle or rock, prompting police to respond with another round of gas.
The chemical haze hung in the air for hours, new blasts clouding the air before the previous fog could dissipate.
The number of protesters diminished with each round of tear gas. Police estimated that there were roughly 1,000 demonstrators at the first clash following the march. About 200 remained after the final conflict around 11:15 PDT, mostly young adults, some riding bicycles, protecting themselves from the noxious fumes with bandanas and scarves wrapped around their faces.
Police have denied reports that they used flash bang canisters to help break up the crowds, saying the loud noises came from large firecrackers thrown at police by protesters.
Protesters moved about uneasily even as one used a bull horn to express his resolve.
"This movement is more than just the people versus the police," Mario Fernandez said. "It's about the people trying to have their rights to basic services. This crowd isn't going anywhere anytime soon."