When peaceful protesters face tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets in a public park, there’s a problem.

Riot police in Oakland dispersed hundreds of protesters with tear gas on Tuesday night as crowds tried to re-enter a plaza outside of City Hall that the authorities had cleared of an encampment earlier in the day.

The forceful response by the police to protesters in Oakland came as the police in Atlanta moved in early Wednesday morning to clear an encampment from the city’s central Woodruff Park. At least 53 people connected to the protest group Occupy Atlanta were arrested, and the park was cleared by 2 a.m. Eastern time, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

By Wednesday morning in downtown Oakland, a dim cloud of gas still hung in the air over Frank Ogawa Plaza, according to images broadcast on CNN. A small number of police in riot gear stood by barricades around the plaza and a handful of protesters held signs nearby. […]

Protesters, many affiliated with the group Occupy Oakland, can be seen scurrying away from billowing clouds of gas and what appear to be flash grenades in video recorded from a high vantage point in a nearby office building.

Here’s the video:

YouTube video

Chris Hayes added, “Note to police commissioners: every single time police suppress non-violent dissent with force and violence it makes [the Occupy movement] stronger.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.