OAKLAND -- People spoke of peace at the latest Occupy Oakland gathering and march Saturday night, a week after more than 400 arrests, flag burnings, tear gas and chaos filled the same streets during the weekly anti-police protest.
About 150 people gathered on the grass at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in front of Oakland City Hall about 7 p.m. in a mellow mood before a planned march at 9 p.m.
Late Saturday, demonstrators began marching toward police headquarters; police followed them, mostly keeping their distance. Some protesters covered their faces with ski masks or bandannas and held signs, which included "End the war in Oakland," "No justice, no peace," and "We are the 99%."
The rally and march followed a midday rally a week earlier, when protesters tore down a fence and attempted to enter the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center. They were met with tear gas, and the confrontation kicked off a chaotic Saturday, culminating with more confrontations outside a YMCA and a flag burning outside City Hall. Police arrested 403 protesters, and 12 received stay-away orders.
Oakland resident Parker Anderson said he was arrested when police blocked protesters and forced them into the YMCA when they were attempting to get back to the plaza.
Following the arrests, he said police crammed 24 people into jail cells that fit five, did not allow them to make phone calls and prevented sick people from getting medications.
"Something needs to change, and I think that's what we're trying to do," he said.
Vicki McGuire, an Oakland psychotherapist, said she dropped back from the protests on Jan. 28 after it became clear that trouble was brewing. "Whether you're a pacifist or a 'diversity of tactics' person, police are accountable for their actions," she said.
McGuire said she initially began supporting the Occupy movement after seeing groups at her child's school compete for arts grants of $20,000, which she considered a pittance. She said she would continue to support the movement despite fissures between peaceful protesters and others.
"We're working on it," she said. "We're not giving up."
Information on the Occupy Oakland website said that those who "identify as peaceful" and are likely to interfere with the actions of fellow protesters may not want to attend the night's march and rally.
"It is a militant action. It attracts anti-capitalists, anti-fascists and other comrades of a revolutionary bent. It is not a march intended for people who are not fully comfortable with diversity of tactics," the message read.
But Occupy Oakland activists said "diversity of tactics" should not be read as being in favor of violence.
"Tonight's tactics is nonviolence," said one man with a megaphone. "End the war in Oakland."