Clashes in Oakland: Police use tear gas, batons against protesters (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Around 400 protesters have been confronted by police who used tear gas, causing hundreds to scatter on May 1. Some activists blocked streets throughout the day and vandalized two banks, a news van and police vehicle.

Nine people were taken into custody in Oakland, California, after hundreds of people took to the streets. Police reportedly used Taser against at least one of them. Officers ordered protesters out of the street after firing the tear gas and “flash-bang” grenades.

Some demonstrators tried to force businesses to shut down for not observing calls for a “general strike.”

Earlier, protesters planned to shut down the Golden Gate Bridge, but the plan was abandoned.

San Francisco Gate news outlet quotes police spokeswoman Johanna Watson as saying, “When our patrol wagon came to make arrests, they were surrounded.”

According to Watson, officers fired the tear gas and flash-bang grenades “to gain the attention of the crowd and stop them, which was effective. The officers were able to take the arrestees and to leave the area.”

An Occupy demonstrator clashes with Oakland police during May Day protests in Oakland (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)
An Occupy demonstrator clashes with Oakland police during May Day protests in Oakland (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)

However the arrests did not stop the protesters. They continued marching through the streets of Oakland chanting anti-capitalism slogans. Among them was Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen, who gained international attention when he was shot with a beanbag by an Oakland police officer at a protest last year. This time the former marine, who suffered a brain injury in the October 25 protest, wore a black helmet to protect his head.

“I am not 100 per cent and I still have some problems, hopefully that will go away with time,” he said in an interview to San Francisco Gate. “It is a shame that [the police] are reacting this way. I shouldn't have to wear a helmet to go out to this, but I do.”

Oakland has seen violent clashes between activists and police in recent months.

Occupy demonstrator is seen inside a bank building during May Day protests in Oakland REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Occupy demonstrator is seen inside a bank building during May Day protests in Oakland REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Occupy demonstrators rally in the streets at a Wells Fargo Bank as part of a nation-wide May Day protest in Oakland (REUTERS/Jana Asenbrennerova)
Occupy demonstrators rally in the streets at a Wells Fargo Bank as part of a nation-wide May Day protest in Oakland (REUTERS/Jana Asenbrennerova)