Oakland, City of Light, City of Magic! From the NYT:
A coalition of labor unions had asked Occupy Oakland, with its proven ability to turn out large numbers of militant activists, to blockade the Golden Gate Bridge, but then withdrew the request at the last minute. Instead, thousands of Occupy protesters met at various “strike stations” and fanned out into the streets with shields and gas masks (or the homemade alternative: bandannas soaked in vinegar), transforming downtown Oakland into a roving carnival of keyed-up militants of every shape and size: graduate students, tenured professors, professional revolutionaries, members of the Black Bloc, dressed like ninjas, their faces obscured.
Joints were passed, but this was not a mellow crowd. A barefoot man known as Running Wolf grabbed an American flag from outside a popular cop bar and dragged it behind him. Packs of protesters charged into businesses, overturning tables, shattering windows and smashing A.T.M.’s. An activist spray-painted vulgarities on the window of a Bank of America branch. The Menace was loose again, as Hunter S. Thompson wrote about a different group of rabble-rousers, the Hell’s Angels. This riot had a soundtrack, too, a cacophony of chants — “Strike! Take Over!” and “Take Back Oakland! Kick Out the Yuppies!” — overlaid with beating snare drums and the rhythmic thump-thumping of the police and news helicopters hovering overhead.
Many businesses were closed, less in solidarity with May Day than out of fear of reprisal from protesters. The rumored targets weren’t just the big corporations, but smaller shops that were the quarry of the so-called antigentrification brigade. In an Occupy Oakland twist on the “Soul Brother” signs that shopkeepers used during the race riots of the 1960s, Awaken, an upscale cafe and art gallery, had plastered its windows with signs reading: “We are Oakland. We are the 99%.”
As the swarm made its way down Broadway, shouting, pounding on windows and throwing bottles at stores, two Asian immigrants hastily boarded up their small, sad-looking beauty-supply store. When I tried to talk to one of them, he shooed me away — “Too busy” — and reached for another board.
When Oakland officials leave the city government, they tend to not go quietly. Last year, Oakland’s departing attorney, John Russo, said he was resigning because he had “moral objections” to the way the city was being run. “The government is led by people who have spent their whole lives fighting authority,” Russo told me. “Now they are the authority, and they don’t know how to deal with that. It’s a uniquely immature and narcissistic leadership group, and that’s why they’re always fighting with each other.”
Wow, that sounds like a good place to live and to do business. Let’s all move there. You first.