Huge crowds of protesters marched through the streets of Oakland on Wednesday, shutting down banks, businesses and the Oakland port.

Occupy Oakland protesters cheer as they climb on tractor trailers loaded with shipping containers at the port of Oakland. (Kent Porter/AP)

Despite violent clashes between the police and protesters last week, Wednesday’s march remained mostly peaceful, until about 2 a.m. when some skirmishes broke out, and around 40 people were arrested, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Police used tear gas and some protesters reported rubber bullets being fired into the crowd. Some small groups of protesters broke the windows of banks and set trash on fire. The Associated Press reports, “At least four protesters were hospitalized Thursday with various injuries, including one needing stitches after fighting with an officer, police said. Several officers were also injured but didn’t need hospitalization.”

Oakland has become an epicenter of activity in the anti-big bank protests, moving the attention from Wall Street in New York to the West Coast city. Solidarity marches were held in other cities on Wednesday and hundreds of civil employees, including around 300 teachers, joined the protests. While some business shut after the protests rallied in front of the buildings, others shut down to show solidarity with the movement.

Occupy Wall Street protesters declared victory when they shut down one of the nation’s busiest shipping ports. It escalated a movement whose tactics had largely been limited to marches, rallies and tent encampments since it began in September.

Steve Fainaru, who has been in the Occupy Oakland crowd and witnessed the sometimes violent stand-offs between the Occupy protesters and police, will be talking with readers online at 3 p.m.

See video and photos from last night: