Friday, September 25, 2009

Police Confront Handful of Protesters, Crowd of Curious Students in Oakland

A crowd gathered yesterday evening next to the Carnegie Library in Oakland near the entry area to the Phipps Conservatory. But there were at least two small protest groups in the midst of the horde.

The Save Darfur Coalition got to Schenley Plaza early hoping world leaders would spot them as they drove in their motorcade to Phipps for dinner. But attention was soon diverted to the spectacle of “Collective Thresholds” a performance art group dressed up in wild costumes made of shredded rags, plastic bags, cardboard and body paint. Their theme was something along the lines of “If you think we’re outrageous, you should check out the G20."

But the main event was not the protests. What started out as a small gathering of students hoping to catch a glimpse of the G20 leaders’ motorcade as it headed to dinner at Phipps last night turned into something more.It was when the battalion of riot police converged on the bridge behind the library that the students began to crowd into the street. And the bigger and louder the crowd grew, the more students it attracted, trying to catch a glimpse of the spectacle. They stood around, taking pictures for their facebook pages, joking nervously about law enforcement standing in formation at such a close distance. And they waited to see some action. It was when a handful of demonstrators got too close that the police acted. Suddenly officers on horseback came charging down the street, flanked by a line of baton wielding police shoving everyone in their paths as they marched forward. Most of the students ran, others walked until the police established a new perimeter at the corner of Schenley Plaza.

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