Police clashed with protesters in Oakland after thousands of demonstrators shut down one of the nation’s busiest shipping ports, escalating a movement whose tactics had largely been limited to marches, rallies and tent encampments since it began in September.

The confrontation began after protesters started a large bonfire in the middle of a downtown street. Dozens of police in riot gear moved in on hundreds of protesters as the flames leapt more than 15 feet in the air from several large metal and plastic trash bins that had been pushed together.

The clash and subsequent standoff came only hours after thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters shut down one of the nation’s busiest shipping ports late Wednesday.

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