Filmmaker Michael Moore visits several hundred Occupy Oakland protesters outside City Hall in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. Moore urged the protesters, many of whom are demonstrating against what they see as a growing disparity between rich and poor, to continue their movement until they run the country. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Demonstrators marched through the streets of San Francisco in one of several protests planned Saturday around California, including across the bay in Oakland, where an Iraq War veteran was injured during a clash between police and demonstrators this week.
The San Francisco rally was festive, with many of the 1,000 or so demonstrators wearing costumes as organizers had urged. Some wore suits in an apparent imitation of Wall Street bankers, while others wore Robin Hood outfits.
Before the march, left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore told them that excesses on Wall Street had stolen “the futures of so many of our citizens.”
The crowd stopped briefly and chanted in support of Scott Olsen, the 24-year-old Iraq War veteran who suffered a fractured skull in an Oakland protest on Tuesday. San Francisco police escorted the crowd as it snaked through city streets, and police spokesman Albie Esparza said there were no arrests or any disturbances.
Olsen remained in fair condition Friday at a hospital. Hospital officials did not return calls Saturday seeking updates on his condition.
Fellow veterans say police fired an object that struck him in the head, but authorities say the object has yet to be definitively established, as well as the person responsible for the injury. His plight has become a rallying cry at Occupy protests around the world.
In Oakland, a rally against police brutality was scheduled for 6 p.m. in front of city hall, and a march was expected to follow two hours later. Protesters there also announced a strike on Nov. 2, when they will be urging banks and corporations to close for the day.
Oakland Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan defended the officers’ action in the Tuesday incident, which stemmed from an effort to drive protesters from the encampment. He said in a statement that officers used what they believed to be the least amount of force possible to protect themselves, but that “all allegations of misconduct and excessive uses of force are being thoroughly investigated.”
His comments came on Friday, the same day that Moore rallied a gathering in Oakland. The documentary director of “Fahrenheit 9/11″ and “Bowling for Columbine” addressed about 1,000 anti-Wall Street protesters, saying the Occupy movement has changed the national discussion.
That encampment at the plaza near city hall has grown to about 50 tents, with organizers saying up to a thousand people were in the area late Friday with very few police in sight.
Across the San Francisco Bay, protesters at the San Francisco encampment reported earlier Saturday that city workers temporarily moved some protesters to clean the plaza where they had taken up residence.
Christine Falvey, a spokeswoman for that city’s mayor, Ed Lee, had said earlier that the camp cannot remain for “too many more days” because of health concerns.
Events in other California cities, including Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Los Angeles and its suburbs, were planned Saturday. Protesters also gathered in Van Nuys and Lancaster, about 50 miles north of Los Angeles in the mostly rural Antelope Valley.
Organizer Angel Warner said the peaceful rally in the city of about 150,000 was a precursor to a full-blown Occupy Antelope Valley movement that she hopes will begin Nov. 5. The group was trying to get permits to set up long-term outside Lancaster’s city hall.
In San Diego, police broke up a three-week-old encampment early Friday, arresting 51 people on charges of illegal lodging, illegal drug use, unlawful assembly and blocking officers from performing their duties. The police chief there said negotiations with demonstrators had broken down and officers received no cooperation, leading to the overnight raid.
In California’s agricultural heartland, officials prepared to oust a group of about 30 demonstrators from next to a Fresno County courthouse. County officials said the group’s permit would expire midnight Monday, and that demonstrators faced jail time and $500 fines if they remained.
Watson reported from San Diego. Contributing to this report were Associated press reporters Chris Weber in Los Angeles; Tracie Cone in Fresno; Terence Chea and Jason Dearen in San Francisco; and Garance Burke in Oakland.