OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) - Oakland police fired rubber bullets and wooden pellets on Monday to disperse hundreds of anti-war protesters in what was believed to be the first such use against U.S. protesters since the American-led war on Iraq began.
Demonstrators were seeking to block access to American President Lines, a shipping company they claimed was profiting from the war in Iraq when said they used the pellets and bullets to disperse about 750 protesters.
Several people were injured, including some who suffered large bruises. One man lifted up his shirt to show a welt about the size of a baseball.
"We gave our dispersal order, we gave them an order, we gave them ample time to disperse," said Oakland Police spokeswoman Danielle Ashford. "When we give our dispersal order, that's pretty much it. (If) there are safety issues involved, that's when we step in."
The anti-war demonstrators carried signs including "Shut down the war makers."
The action is believed to be the first police use of anti-crowd munitions against U.S. demonstrators since President Bush launched a war aimed at toppling Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Police continued to fire upon a group of about 150 protesters that remained in mid-morning after the initial burst of rubber bullets broke up most of the crowd. Police arrested at least a dozen demonstrators in Oakland.
San Francisco police detained about 18 protesters at the Federal Building in a separate demonstration. Several people were also reported to be blocking one of the city's main highways.
Anti-war activists in the San Francisco area said they were resuming protest actions on Monday after a period of relative quiet in a city famous for its history of dissent. Police arrested more than 2,000 people in San Francisco in the first two days of the war.
Also on Monday, New York police arrested several dozen people who blocked the entrance to the Manhattan building of the Carlyle Group, a firm which has a stake in the defense industry.
Up to three hundred people chanted: "Carlyle gets fat on war" outside the offices of the $14 billion investment group.
Police said about two or three dozen demonstrators were arrested outside the 5th Avenue building and charged with disorderly conduct.