By Stephen Lam

It all started like a normal day covering Occupy Oakland. But little did I know it was going to be one of the most intense protests I’ve ever covered.

I arrived at Oakland City Hall around 1pm and there was already a sizable crowd gathered in preparation for the march. I was a bit surprised to see people carrying shields, but I didn’t think much of it and proceeded to photograph the protest as I normally would.

The march began as the group announced that they were headed towards their sound truck which was supposedly pulled over by the police. Sensing a bit of tension, I instinctively went back to the car to grab my gas mask and helmet.

As we approached the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Building, we were met with a strong police presence in an effort to block the protesters. The protesters attempted to avoid confrontation with police by maneuvering through Laney College. This is where the first face-off began.

Shortly after, the protesters made their way to the convention center via Lake Merritt Boulevard. At one point, demonstrators were seen pushing metal fences down to advance towards the center. Unlawful assembly was declared and smoke grenades were set off.