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In Oakland, 400 stage May Day rally at City Hall

May 1, 2012 |  2:23 pm

Officer splashed in yellow paint

About 400 people gathered in Oakland's City Hall plaza at midday Tuesday to reiterate their commitment to confronting social inequality and police aggression, in a sign that the ideals of the Occupy movement still resonate.

Some demonstrators wore face coverings and carried shields crafted from plastic garbage cans. Others identified themselves with crosses of red tape as medics in the event of clashes with police.

A small skirmish broke out between some protesters and riot gear-clad officers. At about 12:40 p.m., at least one protester threw bottles and at least one metal paint can at officers who formed a line to hold back the crowd.

One officer, who asked not to be named, was splashed in yellow paint and kicked in the ribs as he sought to arrest a protester who officers said had rushed the police line.

Separately, CBS reporter Doug Souvern tweeted that protesters attacked and dismantled one of his station's news vans.

Meanwhile, some advocates of a recall of Mayor Jean Quan -- whose decision to raze the encampment and then let it return last fall earned her criticism -- set up a table to collect signatures

Another small group affiliated with the California Constitution Party showed up with a sign proclaiming "'Occupy' Attacks Working People."

The message, however, focused on inequality.

Ingrid Martin, 48, of Oakland, who owns an organic landscaping business, said the good works of the movement have been skewed by coverage of intermittent clashes with police.

In the last two months alone, Martin said, Occupy Oakland has fed more than 2,500 people at six community barbecues, offered emergency medical training to residents whose neighborhoods are plagued by violence but often see slow paramedic response, and continued to save about one property a week from foreclosure.

"I want the world to change," she said of her motives, as hundreds gathered to listen to speakers Tuesday near Oakland City Hall. "I don't want it to be about capitalist exploitation but about liberty and justice for all."

As Martin spoke, a demonstrator spray-painted an anarchist symbol on city property. "I call that vandalism," she said, but she noted that the approach is low on her list of outrages.

 "I'm far far more frustrated that people get shot and it doesn't get reported, and about the school to prison pipeline," she said. "I want to see a deeper conversation."

Tuesday's protest came after a federal court monitor overseeing a legal settlement that calls for Police Department reforms issued a report that said he was "dismayed" with the department's "overwhelming military-style response" to Occupy protests last fall.

Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan has said his department has improved crowd control policies and plans to use smaller groups of officers to isolate and arrest troublemakers.

ALSO:

'Octomom' Nadya Suleman: I've hit 'rock bottom'

Stepdad held boy's head underwater during swim lesson, police say

Human error, poor planning contributed to September blackout, report finds

 -- Lee Romney in Oakland and Maria L. LaGanga in San Francisco

Photo: At least one Oakland police officer was splashed with yellow paint as he sought to arrest a protester. Credit: Lee Romney / Los Angeles Times

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