Steve Chiotakis: Police and protestors clashed on the streets Oakland, Calif. earlier this morning just hours after thousands in the Occupy Oakland movement overtook the port there, just which happens to be one of the nation’s biggest.
Andrew Stelzer is a freelance reporter who’s been covering the protests in Oakland and he’s with us now on the phone. Hey Andrew.
Andrew Stelzer: Hey there, how are you?
Chiotakis: I’m doing well. Why did the protestors target the port?
Stelzer: Well, I think there are two reasons. The big reason is just to show their strength, to show that they are capable of shutting down a major piece of the economic system — that’s the economic system that the Occupy Wall Street protests have been saying are unjust.
Oakland happens to be the location of the fifth largest port in the United States, it’s a major economic engine. So one of the reasons was just to show that we can, and kind of take a next step for the movement.
Also doing it in solidarity with some of the longshoreman in Washington state, who’ve been going through a labor dispute, so in solidarity with them.
Chiotakis: I know just in the last few hours, Andrew, police have reportedly thrown tear gas. We’ve heard even of some injuries. What’s the latest there now?
Stelzer: Well, I was just in downtown Oakland less than an hour ago. The protestors tried to reclaim a building, which I believe was abandoned, perhaps foreclosed on by a bank, which was around the corner from the Occupy location. And there were also a small group of protestors who set some fire to dumpsters in the middle of the street.
I haven’t spoken to the police, but from what I understand, they came to both put out the fires and also evict the protestors who had taken over the foreclosed building.
Throughout the day, there were also some other windows smashed. I would say 95 percent of the protestors who were yelling peaceful protests when there was a small group of protestors that had been smashing a few windows or setting fires.
I even saw people with fire extinguishers trying to put of the fires and then a few protestors who happened to be wearing black with black masks grabbing the people with fire extinguishers and stopping them from putting out the fires.
Chiotakis: Andrew Stelzer, freelance reporter in Oakland. Andrew, thank you.
Stelzer: No problem, thank you.
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