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Weekend violence in Oakland: Is Occupy movement back, or broken? (+video)

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However, the Oakland Police Department (OPD), which describes the events in its own release, said that as activists began to march, “the first dispersal order was given as the crowd began destroying construction equipment and fencing.”

“Officers were pelted with bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares,” the OPD release said, adding that police “deployed smoke and tear gas.”

Anderson says simply, “This is a lie.”

By the end of the evening, some 400 protesters had been arrested and several police officers treated for injuries.

The OPD has not returned calls for comment. Its official statements say the protesters initiated the violent actions.

Reports from others on the ground paint a very different picture. Dan Miskulin, a contractor from San Francisco, describes a situation that many caught up in the action tweeted, texted, and blogged – saying that the police created an impossible situation for the protesters. According to these reports, police in riot gear surrounded the protesters, repeatedly funneling them into first a park and then an area by the YMCA from which they had no exit.

“I watched people go up to the officers and ask how they could leave, and the officers told them to go to another spot where the officers would pass them on. People were panicking after the tear gas,” Mr. Miskulin says.

[Editor's note: The original versionof this article reported that Mr. Miskulin said, "People were panicking after the tear gas and rubber bullets."]

As for projectiles being hurled at the police, notes Drexel University political scientist George Ciccareillo-Maher, who has been following the events closely, “protesters tossed back the tear gas canisters that were being shot at them by the police.”

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