Oakland port reopens after Occupy clashes

Protesters climb on trucks near the port of Oakland The port stayed closed through Wednesday evening but resumed operations in the morning

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The Port of Oakland has reopened, after clashes in the centre of the city sent at least four protesters to hospital.

The port - the fifth busiest in the United States - was shut down on Wednesday evening by thousands of protesters blocking the entrance.

Some supporters of a general strike called by demonstrators have condemned those who clashed with police.

Police used tear gas to quell angry crowds near Oakland's main protest camp, and arrested some 30 people.

Protests on Wednesday were largely peaceful until around midnight local time (07:00 GMT), when some of the protesters reportedly set a barricade on fire.

Police said they gave the order to fire tear gas and bean bags "following repeated orders for the crowd to disperse" and in the face of "continued assaults by rocks, lit flares, roman candles and bottles".

The port reopened on Thursday morning, its website said, adding that the situation in Oakland "remains fluid".

'Better than this'

Some who organised or supported Wednesday's general strike were upset that groups of protesters had vandalised banks and clashed with police.

Start Quote

They leech off our numbers... they only show up when there's a rally”

End Quote Michael Porter Protester

"I think it will allow detractors to criticise the movement," protester Hale Nicholson told the Associated Press news agency.

He blamed the clashes on "some kids looking to blow off some steam".

At the protest group's Thursday morning meeting, campers at the Occupy Oakland site near City Hall discussed how they would deal with destructive protesters, according to reports.

"It's messing with our movement," Michael Porter, who has been camping at the site, told the Oakland Tribune. "They leech off our numbers - they only show up when there's a rally."

Banks in downtown Oakland were vandalised, including a Chase branch where glass windows were shattered and ink splattered across ATMs.

Later, a note was found taped to the shattered glass: "We are better than this... Sorry, the 99%".

Veterans protest

Following protesters' calls for a general strike, Oakland officials said about 5% of employees took the day off on Wednesday, including about 360 teachers.

The BBC's Alastair Leithead, in Los Angeles, says Oakland has a higher than average unemployment rate and suffered badly during the US recession.

A masked protester smashes a window at a bank in Oakland. Photo: 2 November 2011 City officials blamed anarchists for "isolated" incidents of violence

Oakland police estimated that about 3,000 demonstrators had gathered at the port. Police said 4,500 people had marched across the city on Wednesday.

Oakland's Occupy movement captured national attention after police clashes led to the serious injury of an Iraq war veteran who was participating in the protests.

Ex-Marine Scott Olsen, 24, is recovering in an Oakland hospital after being struck on the head with a tear gas canister fired by police.

In an open letter to residents on Tuesday, the Oakland Police Officer's [sic] Association said last week's protests cost the city $1m (£626,000).

But city officials said they had not fully tallied the cost, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

In New York, veterans associated with the 99% movement marched in solidarity with the Oakland strike.

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