Oakland police and May Day protesters face off. Video courtesy of KNTV.

MSNBC  May 1, 2012

Protesters across the world hit the streets Tuesday on May Day to rally against austerity measures and call for higher wages and more jobs.

Marches turned violent in Oakland, where protesters pounded on bank windows and went face-to-face with a police line, and in Seattle, where protesters dressed in black smashed windows and police pepper-sprayed some in the crowds. 

Protesters playing cat-and-mouse with police pounded on windows of banks and other businesses, reported. After surrounding a downtown Bank of America branch, protesters chanted, “Oakland is the people’s town; strike, occupy, shut it down.” they also gathered at a Wells Fargo bank branch. Police later confronted demonstrators marching through downtown. Video by showed at least one protester being dragged away by police.

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A group of May Day protesters dressed in black clothes and wearing face makeup smashed windows in downtown Seattle. Video courtesy KING

In Seattle, windows were broken and police arrested a handful of protesters as about 100 marched in downtown, NBC station KING reported. Many marchers were dressed in dark clothes, wearing face makeup and carrying sticks, live TV video showed. Police pepper-sprayed several protesters as problems developed. KING reported numerous tires slashed and large amounts of glass on the ground from vehicles and buildings, including the old federal courthouse, smashed by protesters. Peaceful protesters remained at the downtown Westlake Plaza, where speeches and concerts continued, KING reported.

“Part of me, I want to understand where they’re coming from and then they pull something like this,” said Sam, who would not give his last name, as he saw the back window of his car smashed out by protesters. Sam was on holiday from his home in British Columbia. “I’m from Canada,” he said, “imagine the impression this gives me of the United States.”

Occupy Detroiters marched from old train station to Grand Circus Park

 In the United States, the protests are seen as the biggest test for the Occupy movement since many of its camps were shuttered late last year. Occupiers in more than 100 cities across the country were expected to protest on the day that traditionally celebrates workers’ rights.

“We’ve got hundreds of people out already and I know a lot of people are going to be trickling in as the day goes along. We’ve had pickets at the Bank of America, Chase, Disney,” Mark Bray of the Occupy Wall Street PR team said as protesters in Manhattan chanted “We are the 99 percent” in the background. “(The) mood is very spirited, the rain is lightening up.”

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About 1,000 Occupy protesters were based at New York’s Bryant Park. As about 250 protesters left to march on banks after noon, they chanted “Out of the stores, into the streets” and “Banks got bailed out; we got sold out.”

Robby McGeddon, 47, a tech worker carrying a maypole for May Day, said, “There’s too much fear for the general public to actually want to strike. They don’t want to lose their job. … We haven’t reached that tipping point where people are more frightened for some place to live. … It will get to the tipping point but right now we’re just practicing.”

“We’re trying to find new, positive community-building ways to engage and protest and be a part of the burgeoning civil dialogue about what this country should be doing,” said Daphne Carr, 33, co-organizer of the Occupy Music Working Group.

About 300 musicians led a march of about 1,000 down Fifth Avenue to Union Square in Manhattan. The crowd swelled to about 3,000 later in the day as unions reperesenting teachers, transport workers, nurses, musicians and others in lively afternoon of art and music.

Carr said music making “has been eroded from our public sphere so we’re taking and re-claiming the right to play music publicly together in the streets, in the parks without permits, and that it’s a safe and natural part of being a part of the city.”

“Get a job,” one man said as he elbowed his way through the crowd of protesters.

“This is like the resurgence of the Occupy Wall Street movement,” said photographer Joel Simpson, 65, of Union, N.J., as the “guitarmy” sang “This land is your land” in the background. Though most of New York City didn’t know the May Day protest was going on, he said, the Occupy movement “touches public consciousness in a very broad way and politicians have to at least pay lip service to it.”

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