A day after hoisting megaphones and political might, the city of Oakland took to the streets again Thursday -- this time armed with scrub brushes, trash bins and the sobering knowledge that a powerful message against Wall Street excess had been overrun by, what one protester called, "a bunch of punks with their own agenda."
And now, with Occupy Oakland's factions turning on themselves, and the financially troubled city's bill for containing the protests climbing skyward, the euphoria over Wednesday's historic general strike has given way to widespread frustration and blame.
"I woke up this morning to disaster," said Johnny Allen, 60, of Oakland who had gone to bed Wednesday night elated after joining more than7,500 marchers in a mostly peaceful protest that shut down banks, businesses and the fifth-busiest port in America. "A handful of people came and destroyed everything."
What Oakland -- and the rest of the country -- woke up to Thursday was a devastating scene, after a fringe group that police described as anarchists took over a foreclosed building on 16th Street, setting bonfires and hurling Molotov cocktails in a battle with police in riot gear. Windows were shattered for blocks around Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, the epicenter of the Occupy Oakland movement where more than 100 tents are pitched in the shadow of City Hall.
Oakland's port and many businesses reopened Thursday, as the city tried to tally the economic toll.
"They took a few steps forward and I racked the shotgun and they left," said Tagami, who oversaw the $50 million restoration of the building and is a tenant in the upper floors. "It's sort of the universal 'Don't come any farther' sign."
Surveying the extensive damage to the building Thursday, he estimated hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. "It's not hyperbole to say we were under siege last night."
The violence dampened what thousands of peaceful protesters wanted to remember from what happened before dark Wednesday. The next morning, many walked the downtown sidewalks with brooms and buckets of soapy water.
"I was very proud to be a part of the march. It was amazing," Adam Groszkiewicz, 31, of Alameda, said Thursday afternoon of the march to the Port of Oakland. "As to what happened last night -- the fact that I'm here scrubbing graffiti off the wall is all the statement
At a packed City Council meeting Thursday evening, where 112 people signed up to speak, tensions escalated among the business owners, local residents and protesters before the meeting began.
"You had a lot of support when you came here, but now you're losing it," longtime resident Laura McNeil, 52, said to protesters sitting next to her, who then responded with verbal insults.
The Occupy movement has been proud of its "leaderless" organization, where the loose-knit group builds consensus among various interests with different agendas -- from pro-union to anti-Wall Street to marijuana legalization sympathizers -- at daily "general assembly" meetings in the plaza. But it has also made it difficult to pinpoint blame or corral troublemakers. About 100 people were arrested before dawn Thursday, including people partaking in so-called "black bloc" tactics of wearing black face masks, dragging Dumpsters into streets to form barricades and launching M80s at police.
A meeting facilitator, who would only identify herself as "Milani," said it wasn't just outsiders committing vandalism. It was Occupy organizers, too.
"The person I saw putting toilet paper up, they're a facilitator at the general assembly," she said. "The person spray-painting, they're on the events committee."
Some protesters tried to calm the nighttime chaos and discourage protesters from throwing rocks and bottles at police.
Groszkiewicz said he pulled
Oakland interim police Chief Howard Jordan said officers were confronted with people setting fires around the perimeter of the occupied building on 16th Street to prevent them from going inside. "Officers were pelted with rocks, bottles and incendiary devices," he said.
By 1 a.m., police had responded with tear gas and bean bag rounds. Both sides settled into an uneasy truce by 3:30 a.m., with a line of police facing off against a line of protesters near the plaza until protesters began to file away in clumps. At one point it appeared as though police were ready to move in on the encampment, where about 100 tents have sprung up since the Oct. 25 police raid, but that didn't happen.
The city gave no estimate of how much the enforcement and cleanup would cost the city. Mayor Jean Quan, who has been criticized for her handling of the conflicts, said Thursday that it will "bite heavily" into the overtime fund.
"We don't have a lot of extra money," Quan said. "It will mean the community gets less services. Last week's costs for the police department were $700,000."
On Thursday afternoon, many expressed outrage about the overnight mayhem and agreed to clean up, express "regret" to business owners, and patronize the vandalized establishments.
"They're carrying around axes, for God's sake, on the side of the street. That's not good for anyone," said Craig Casey, 35, of Berkeley, who is also part of the "Fresh Juice Party" that advocates "musical protests." "Everyone knows this is a peaceful occupation designed to annoy people who need to be annoyed. It's not to go around destroying things."
But some were more ambivalent.
"They're totally going to taint the image, but you have to take the good with the bad," said Alex Matkin, 26, who has been living at the encampment. "We're not a cohesive group. Disagreement reinforces the process."
Staff writers Angela Woodall, Sean Maher, Hannah Dreier, Scott Johnson, Matthias Gafni and Robert Salonga contributed to this report.
PROTEST costs add up for cash-strapped city
The city doesn't have an estimate for cleanup and policing costs from the recent Occupy protests yet, Mayor Jean Quan said, but "we don't have a lot of extra money. Last week's costs for the police department were $700,000."