Oakland Protests Over Zimmerman Verdict Again Turn Violent
OAKLAND (BCN and KQED) At least nine people, protesting George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, were arrested late Monday night and early this morning during a rally in downtown Oakland, police said.
A number of downtown businesses were vandalized and protesters were arrested for offenses that included two felony crimes and seven misdemeanors. Violations included assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest and vandalism, according to police.
Assaults, broken windows, graffiti and small fires were reported. Police also recovered a BB gun from a protester.
Six men and two females were arrested. A male juvenile was issued a notice to appear in court for vandalism and was released to a guardian, police said.
The majority of the arrestees reported addresses outside Oakland, according to police.
As of 2:45 a.m., numerous acts of vandalism — including dumpsters pulled into the street, windows broken and fireworks set off — were reported, police said.
Oakland police and other agencies attempted to redirect the crowd of what police said were at least 250 protesters when they began lighting off fireworks and smashing glass storefront windows in the vicinity of lower Telegraph Avenue, Franklin Street and Broadway late Monday night and early this morning. OPD said nine other law enforcement agencies provided mutual aid: the California Highway Patrol, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and Berkeley, San Leandro, Hayward, Pleasanton, Union City, Fremont and Newark police departments.
The Oakland Tribune is reporting that police used flash-bang grenades against protesters.
Also from the Trib:
A waiter was hit with what appeared to be a hammer while protecting the windows at Flora, a restaurant at the corner of Telegraph and 19th streets. Protesters with black masks approached the window and tried to bang at it,” said bartender Phillip Ricafort. “(The waiter) said, ‘Don’t do that!’ and the guy turned around and smacked him in the face with a hammer” or another metal object. “It was gruesome,” said Ricafort. He said his co-worker was bleeding from the face.
Chronicle reporter Demian Bulwa, who was covering the protest, tweeted this last night:
Youth Radio windows get smashed as people nearby shout at #Trayvon Oakland protesters to stop — “That’s a nonprofit!”
— Demian Bulwa (@demianbulwa) July 16, 2013
On KQED’s Forum this morning, Bulwa said police did not try to intervene aggressively in stopping the vandalism.
Monday night’s protest was the third in three days in Oakland following the announcement Saturday that George Zimmerman was found not guilty of the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin after a confrontation where he followed Martin, believing he was suspicious.
According to police, the protest on Monday blocked traffic for about 20 minutes on Interstate Highway 880 and about five people were arrested.
The rally began at about 6 p.m. in Frank Ogawa Plaza and was initially led by a team of protesters on bicycles — some who decorated their wheels in an Oakland style known as “Scraper Bikes.”
After leaving the plaza, protesters marched past Oakland police headquarters, briefly onto Interstate Highway 880 before being dispersed by Oakland police and California Highway Patrol officers, and then through Chinatown, to Lake Merritt and then into downtown.
There were brief confrontations between protesters and officers at several locations, including at the entrance to Interstate Highway 580 near Lake Merritt, at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse at 12th and Oak streets and downtown.
Protests also turned violent in Los Angeles. From AP:
Protesters ran through Los Angeles streets Monday night, breaking windows, attacking people on sidewalks and raiding a Wal-Mart store, while others blocked a major freeway in the San Francisco Bay Area in the third night of demonstrations in California over George Zimmerman’s Florida acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Fourteen people were arrested after multiple acts of vandalism and several assaults in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw District. One man was seen in the street with a head injury and a TV crew received minor injuries in an assault.
More than 300 officers were called to the scene and were at first slow to directly engage protesters in an attempt to allow a peaceful end to the demonstration, police Chief Charlie Beck told a press conference. But the chief said police would take a much stricter posture in the coming nights.
“This will not be allowed to continue,” Beck said.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the trouble was caused by a small group exploiting the situation.