* Movement inspires rallies in numerous cities
* "Anarchists" wear black bandannas in some locations
* Packets of harmless white powder mailed to N.Y. banks
By Atossa Araxia Abrahamian and Malathi Nayak
NEW YORK/OAKLAND, Calif., May 1 Occupy Wall
Street protesters smashed windows in Seattle, were chased
through New York streets by police on scooters, and clashed
repeatedly with officers in Oakland on Tuesday in May Day
demonstrations intended to revive their movement against
While many events involving thousands of people remained
peaceful or even festive and few injuries were reported, dozens
were arrested at rallies across the country, including more than
40 in New York during a series of skirmishes throughout the day.
In Oakland, police in riot gear fired tear gas and
flash-bang grenades to disperse protesters who they said threw
objects at officers and struck them with corrugated metal
shields during a mid-afternoon altercation.
City officials said marchers had vandalized two banks, a
police van and a news vehicle.
"I was standing on the outside and the cops came in,
snatched two people in the crowd, beat them and put them in the
paddy wagon," Occupy Oakland organizer Caitlin Manning said.
After darkness fell, throngs of protesters confronted police
twice more before scattering each time when officers discharged
flash-bang grenades. More than a dozen people were arrested in
Oakland throughout the day and evening.
Much of the violence and vandalism was attributed to
black-clad anarchist elements within the Occupy movement who
have been involved in previous confrontations with police,
marring what began as a peaceful anti-Wall Street protest
But the clashes they helped spark last year had also served
to inject new life into the protests as demonstrators took up
the issue of police brutality following running clashes in
Oakland and pepper spray incidents elsewhere in the country.
In downtown Seattle, protesters carrying black flags on
sticks shattered the windows of several stores including a Nike
Town outlet and an HSBC bank before police moved them out of the
area. Others smashed windows at a Seattle federal building, and
eight were taken into custody.
Inspired by the Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street movement
captured world attention last year with a campaign decrying the
gap between rich and poor and a political system and tax
structured tilted toward the wealthiest 1 percent.
In New York, where the Occupy movement began last September,
thousands packed New York's Union Square in a party-like
atmosphere with Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello.
"It's definitely a restart for Occupy Wall Street," said
Lily Schwarzbaum, 21, who is from New York but studies in
Montreal, Canada. "Occupy Wall Street has been very conscious of
making it a kick-off."
But before the day was out, about 400 New York protesters -
many wearing black clothes and bandannas - ran onto Broadway as
police chased them on scooters.
Police also reported 10 instances of harmless white powder
-- apparently meant to raise an anthrax scare -- being mailed to
financial institutions and others, along with notes saying,
"Happy May Day ... This is a reminder you are not in control."
David Meyer, sociology professor at the University of
California, Irvine, said the movement needed to rein in its more
radical elements if it wanted to retain support by the American
"The challenge is that the most radical action, particularly
if it's violent, is going to get the most attention," Meyer
said. "The broader Occupy movement runs the risk of being
discredited by its own radical flank."
In that vein, Occupy Cleveland canceled its events "out of
respect for the city" after five self-described anarchists were
arrested on suspicion of plotting to blow up a four-lane highway
bridge over a national park.
Occupy Cleveland said in a statement the men arrested were
associated with their movement but that "they were in no way
representing or acting on behalf of Occupy Cleveland." The group
said it was committed to non-violent protest.
PROTESTS IN LOS ANGELES, PORTLAND
Although labor unions rejected pleas from leaders of the
Occupy movement for a general strike, forcing demonstrators to
abandon a plan to shut down San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge,
activists hailed the day's events as a step forward for a
movement that had grown inactive and cash poor since capturing
world attention last fall.
"We've been building important alliances and radicalized
people in what they're willing to endorse. I mean, we never even
used to celebrate May Day. Now look at this," said David
Graeber, an anthropologist and author active in the movement.
May Day, also known as International Workers' Day, has long
been a day on which the labor movement holds street
demonstrations and marches, but less so in the United States
than elsewhere around the world.
In Los Angeles, thousands of protesters including a large
contingent of immigrant rights activists, some waving Mexican
flags, marched through the downtown financial district,
remaining mostly peaceful despite a few minor skirmishes.
American Apparel CEO Dov Charney, who took part in
the rally, said he gave some 200 workers at the company's
downtown Los Angeles factory the afternoon off to participate.
"We want to support a non-apartheid system," Charney told
Reuters, referring to U.S. immigration policies.
Lieutenant Andy Neiman, a spokesman for the Los Angeles
police department, said a female police officer was struck by a
skateboard during a scuffle with protesters and was taken to a
local hospital, where she was listed in stable condition.
Ten people were arrested near Los Angeles International
Airport after they blocked a major thoroughfare.
In Portland, at least 21 people were arrested in a several
scuffles with police during a series of demonstrations.