Finally groups settle onto either side of the street as the protest marshals shuffle in between.
A scuffle breaks out on a far corner, a group runs past. The spark is lit, people laugh as they realize everyone has come together to run off a bunch of evangelical Christians that feed off of public demonstrations.
Protest police move to surround us as we shift to the next corner. We are again broken up on various sides of the street. Someone tries to smash a bus stand, and then suddenly what everyone is waiting for, the loud crash of a breaking window.
Wells Fargo’s windows go first. A deliberate shift from the small businesses from the night of the 7th, or maybe just the best target available. Tear gas canisters arch across Broadway and explode in front of the bank.
Protest marshals and police storm towards the action, and people run again. A small crowd funnels into an outdoor concrete mall filled with Jamba Juices and Radio Shacks. There is an eerie feeling of too much power at first: we wait for the other shoe to drop and the police to materialize at the other side of a dead end.
Get out! Get out! They’re gonna box us in here!
They do not and we are overcome with disbelief and laughter; we continue running.
Large potted plants and small signs are picked up and thrown through windows in the mall, people kick at whatever they can as they run by. The media crews are running with full camera regalia to get in on the action. There must have been a memo to tell them to wear jogging shoes.
Cover your face!
When we find a moment, we remind one another to remain invisible to be seen.
Outside of the mall groups splinter and reform again and again, in smaller numbers than the 7th. Patrons in a downtown restaurant stare, or deliberately avert their eyes as if eye contact would make them the next target.
We run down the streets through a maze of bewildered business patrons, spontaneously reforming lines of riot police, and media. A street full of parked cars has their windows smashed in, kids jump up and down on them. A woman with a gigantic camera jogs to film the wreckage.
What the fuck are you doing filming this? You should be filming the cops!
“Hey, we’re just trying to make sure no one gets hurt!”
You’re going to GET people hurt with that shit!
The police announce that downtown Oakland is officially closed to the public. Unmarked cruisers filled with pigs in riot gear roam the streets, their back doors cracked open. One rebel shouts with a huge smile across his face:
Welcome to downtown Oakland.
Welcome. Welcome to the city that holds contempt for its own youth and is cruelly complacent in our deaths.