Oakland residents clean up after night of protests

November 6, 2010 4:51:05 PM PDT
Residents of Oakland were cleaning up Saturday after a night of vandalism and over 150 arrests.

The protests followed Friday's sentencing of the former BART officer who killed Oscar Grant. Johannes Meserle's 2-year prison sentence is still an open wound for the victim's family and On Saturday afternoon, Grant's family helding a meeting to express their thoughts about the sentence.

Grant's family knows it is important to reach out to the community, especially in light of what happened Friday night.

"No justice, no peace," crowds chanted.

It was a rallying cry that got attention. Just minutes after a peaceful event honoring Oscar Grant ended at Frank Ogawa Plaza, the protests started.

Followed by the vandalism, cars were smashed, windows were broken and fences were destroyed. Hundreds filled the streets near Laney College, where police in riot gear were waiting.

A splinter group then broke off and headed toward East 18th Street and that is where the massive police crackdown happened. Police arrested 152 people, most for unlawful assembly.

Enrique Ramos was one of them. He was released from jail Saturday.

"I walked out to the street and people were already rioting and that's not what we wanted," he said.

Ramos insists he and many others were not the troublemakers that were jumping on parked cars and causing damage.

"It was stupid, but at the same time, people are upset," he said.

People are still upset and also tired after spending the night in jail. They accuse police of unfairly arresting them.

"We are guaranteed our right to assemble. We assembled in protest of the 2-year sentence that Mehserle got for killing an innocent human being," said Jevon Cochran.

"I was surprised because I felt like we weren't doing anything wrong. We were just marching down the streets," said Xochil Frausto.

However, that is not all that happened. Police say what eventually caused the crackdown is when a gun was ripped from an officer's gun belt. It was recovered in a crowd of protestors.

"You have a right to protest. You have a right to have freedom of speech. You have a right to voice your opinion and your discontent. You do not have a right to tear this city up," said Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts.

Those who live on 5th Avenue, where much of the damage occurred, could not agree more.

"They are crazy. They pass by and see any car and they broke the window of car completely. They hurt a lot of innocent people," recalled one Oakland resident.

Police say more arrests and charges may come. They are reviewing photos and video of the vandals. Investigators then want to track those people down.

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