(05-01) 19:30 PDT Oakland 

Oakland police clashed repeatedly with Occupy activists Tuesday, firing tear gas canisters and flash-bang grenades at several hundred protesters near City Hall in brief but volatile skirmishes that escalated as quickly as they dissipated.

Some protesters shoved against police lines with black shields bearing an “A” for anarchy. Some threw objects at officers, surrounded police cars and pounded on them. In one case, a protester dressed in black threatened an officer with a pole.

But many protesters remained peaceful, throwing flowers at the cops’ feet or marching peacefully with children in the Fruitvale District, vowing to avoid the violence downtown.

The daylong series of events on May Day was held throughout parts of Oakland, San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area by a wide range of protest groups, including Occupy, to honor International Workers’ Day and denounce economic inequities.

In Oakland in particular, the mood was tense from the beginning, despite the range of events that went from peaceful rallies to confrontations and vandalism.

“The tempo of the crowd was a lot more assertive, a lot more aggressive” than in past demonstrations involving Occupy groups, Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said in an afternoon press conference. He said the mood was so volatile that by 9 a.m. he had called for mutual aid from about a half-dozen area law enforcement agencies.

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