WATCH: Peaceful Occupy Protest Degenerates Into Riot | Roland Martin Reports

WATCH: Peaceful Occupy Protest Degenerates Into Riot

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Source: AP / MSNBC

OAKLAND, Calif. — A day of demonstrations in Oakland that began as a significant step toward expanding the political and economic influence of the Occupy Wall Street movement, ended with police in riot gear arresting dozens of protesters who had marched through downtown to break into a vacant building, shattering windows, spraying graffiti and setting fires along the way.

“We go from having a peaceful movement to now just chaos,” said protester Monique Agnew, 40.

The far-flung movement of protesters challenging the world’s economic systems and distribution of wealth has gained momentum in recent weeks, capturing the world’s attention by shutting down one of the nation’s busiest shipping ports toward the end of a daylong “general strike” that prompted solidarity rallies across the U.S.

About 3,000 people converged on the Port of Oakland, the nation’s fifth-busiest harbor, in a nearly five-hour protest Wednesday, swarming the area and blocking exits and streets with illegally parked vehicles and hastily-erected, chain-link fences.

Port officials said they were forced to cease maritime operations, citing concerns for workers’ safety. They said in a statement they hope to resume operations Thursday “and that Port workers will be allowed to get to their jobs without incident. Continued missed shifts represent economic hardship for maritime workers, truckers, and their families, as well as lost jobs and lost tax revenue for our region.”

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