At about 7:30 PM this evening, after one of the most idiotic manuevers by the Oakland Police I have yet seen, Trayvon Martin verdict protesters went up the down ramp onto an already backed up I880, eventually caused traffic in both directions of a five-lane each-way freeway to come to a halt.
Stay with me as this evening's story gets told in pictures and tweets.
Here's the new Chase Bank, diagonally opposite Oscar Grant Plaza at 14th & Broadway in downtown Oakland. Shown this evening, none of their windows were broken (one was slightly smashed) in previous night's activities, but they took precautions today before the scheduled 6:00 PM rally.
Here's Oscar Grant Plaza during the rally. The crowd was larger than yesterday's gathering. To the right and back of the photo would be where the Occupy tents were a year and eight months ago. Beyond the white blockhouse and into the street (Broadway) is where Scott Olsen got taken down by an OPD beanbag round.
As the march began, I counted up somewhere close to seven hundred and fifty people marching off down Broadway; yesterday's initial count was six hundred. This crowd seemed more pumped up than yesterday, but it was a festive energy.
There were toddlers. There were people in wheelchairs. Oldsters and youngsters. People in black and people in suits. No one was asking for trouble and the march leaders had emphasized such before we took off.
Then the police fucked it all up. Bigtime. The plan was to march down Broadway to 7th, where OPD headquarters is located on the far right corner, make a right, go down a ways and then head back to Oscar Grant Plaza. But as the march got to the turning point, a thin line of police blocked the crowd from making the right onto 7th. The crowd pushed on down Broadway to 6th, where they found a much thicker line of police blocking them again from turning right.
There is on off ramp onto Broadway from the I880 freeway right at 6th St, and as the police wouldn't let people go where they wanted, the entire crowd of seven or eight hundred people bunched together at the intersection, blocking all traffic coming off the freeway, probably creating a serious jam on the northbound freeway in and of itself.
Then, with last night's blocking of I10 in Los Angeles last night surely in their minds, some two hundred in the vanguard broke off and headed up the down ramp while the rest of us continued to mill around at the intersection, traffic continuing to be blocked in all directions.
Bloking 6th bway fwy offramp backing up— Jaime Omar Yassin (@hyphy_republic) July 16, 2013
I wasn't up on the ramp. I only heard about it second or third hand. But a good friend, Daniel, a photographer and videographer who has often contributed pictures to my Occupy Oakland and Justice 4 Alan Blueford essays, found himself on the ground and arrested up on the ramp. We don't at this point know why he was arrested - what he was doing differently than everyone else who was up there, if anything. And we don't know where they've taken him.
About 200 people on the 880 freeway in Oakland— The Spectre of Scott (@OakScott) July 16, 2013
After some long minutes, an entire troop of cops started jogging up the ramp, then another one.
Apparently some California Highway Patrol Officers intervened, and negotiated a peaceful standdown. Protesters agreed to get off the freeway and go back down the ramp, and no one (else) got arrested, at least that I heard. Our intrepid Kossack and inveterate tweeter Alyssa was apparently up there (or else this next photo mysteriously appeared in her tweet stream).
Hella cops coming up the Jackson street on ramo— The Spectre of Scott (@OakScott) July 16, 2013
I was amazed and happy not to see mass arrests as I watched comrades coming down off the freeway ramp of their own free will.
The march went back to Oscar Grant Plaza, occupied 14th & Broadway for a few minutes, then started off again in the direction of Lake Merritt. Eventually it made its way halfway around the lake to Lakeshore and MacArthur where there are on and off ramps to I580. Seemingly the police had more sense at this point, blocking the ramps instead of blocking the streets.
We've been marching for 2:15, or 3/4 the length of Braveheart, a long ass film. There are still at least 400-500 out here.— Shareef Ali (@shareefali) July 16, 2013
DO NOT believe anything on the news about ANY protest until THE PEOPLE on the ground report back. Not tonight. Not ever. #medialies— #OccupyLA (@OccupyLA) July 16, 2013
OAKLAND: Linking arms demanding "Justice Now!" pic.twitter.com/4kVrlWINPp— OccupythePort (@occupytheport) July 16, 2013
As far as I am able to tell, after going back down along the Lake to the Alameda County Courthouse...
the marchers made it back again to Oscar Grant Plaza without major incident, although twitter is full of OPD's plans to make vandalism arrests.
Even when the people shut down 880 it was all love no madness no reason to describe that as Vioelnt @kTVU— Davey D (@mrdaveyd) July 16, 2013
What's the bottom line? Once again, aggressive police presence and stupid tactics only served to make a completely peaceful march agitated. One can't predict with certainly what would have happened in the absence of such idiocy on into the night, of course, but one thing I can say with absolute certainly: no one would have attempted to block I880 had the march been left to go unimpeded, because it never intended to get anywhere near it.
Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 11:05 PM PT: OMG!!!
Just when everything seemed to have calmed down all hell broke loose around Oscar Grant Plaza. Arrests, tear gas, police projectiles.
Too late to compile into additional tweets and pictures.