More protests held in Oakland over Zimmerman acquittal

July 15, 2013 11:54:58 PM PDT
The trial that captivated the nation also enraged some protesters in Oakland who decided to use the verdict as an excuse to vandalize the city over the weekend. Across the country there is a lot of anger and feelings of frustration over the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman. In Oakland a group of about 100 turned to violence and vandalism over the weekend.

Monday evening hundreds of protesters marched around the streets of Oakland. At one point during the rush hour commute, the group briefly marched up the Broadway exit to Interstate-880 and police closed both directions of the freeway for a brief time. Police corralled the protesters off the freeway and I-880 shortly reopened.

The group then marched around the Lake Merritt area and at 9 p.m. police blocked off the Lakeshore Avenue onramp to eastbound Interstate-580 so that protesters would not attempt to march onto the freeway.

The standoff between police and protesters intensified around 10:45 p.m. where the march stalled at Broadway and Telegraph Avenue. Protesters started throwing things at police and the police answered back with flash bang grenades.

Many in the crowd said the Zimmerman verdict was an emotional one for them because it opened up the wounds of the Oscar Grant verdict. Monday night's protest started out peaceful, but in many of these Oakland demonstrations the crowd changes dramatically when the sun goes down.

"Officers have reported rocks and bottles being thrown at them and we are effecting arrests," said Oakland Police spokesperson Officer Johnna Watson.

Rally speaker Mensah Ajanaku shouted, "How long will we allow this to happen? It can no longer happen!"

The protest began at City Hall and some demonstrators talked about the emotional impact of the Trayvon Martin verdict and how it affects their lives as parents.

"I have fear. I can't sleep at night until I know that my sons are at home in bed. That's how it is for me," said Oakland resident Daphne Hughes.

Oakland resident Mario Hankton told us his father-son lectures are different now. He said, "You got to be aware of who you're around. How you're perceived, be weary of potential danger even coming from people who are supposed to keep you safe."

The vandalism was not as widespread as it was over the weekend. Officers made at least five arrests Monday evening.

Oakland businesses clean up after weekend protests

As he cut the plywood covers for the broken windows of Chase Bank, Victor Schott of Modesto says they'd never put up with this in his home town.

"Uh no, I don't think so. No. Why destroy your place? It's too much," said Schott from Beeline Glass.

And it wasn't just the banks that got hit. Down the street at Oaklandish they sell civic pride t-shirts.

"And it's not just our store it's many, many small businesses Flora, Dogwood, Awaken. I mean these are all small family-owned businesses. These aren't the big guys," said Natalie Nadimi from the Oaklandish store.

But in breaking windows to protest a verdict 2,900 miles away, the people doing it didn't discriminate between corporations and the mom and pops. They hit whoever they wanted to and nobody was arrested because there were no police.

"From what I heard for about three hours where there wasn't anyone present so," said Nadimi.

Monday, the acting chief of police, Sean Whent, walked through the neighborhood and told reporters the problem was no one in the department anticipated the verdict.

"And then the verdict came very quickly and by that point it was too late to bring in extra cops," said Whent.

By the time extra police were called, they formed up at the police department, protecting police headquarters from the mob.

Monday Mayor Jean Quan blamed the news media for attracting the vandals to come from San Francisco to Oakland.

"Think about it, you know, I think they get off on your coverage of them. So I think we all have to think about it. What are we all doing that makes them feel like it's OK to come back?" said Quan.

It's hasn't been that long since Oakland had to payout $1.1 million to a group of Occupy protesters who sued the city over excessive force. The owner of the Awaken coffee shop, stood outside his broken window and told us the city has to be careful how it responds.

"You know I think violence just begets more violence, force begets more force, and you know control and peace are what's going to make a difference here," said Cortt Dumlap from Awaken Caf?.

Oakland's acting police chief says there is adequate staffing to control Monday night's protest march. Around 6 p.m. about 100 people showed up for the planned "Hoodie Rally."

Thousands have demonstrated around the country, and on Monday the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York said his group is trying to keep the momentum going. They're planning rallies at federal buildings in a 100 cities next Saturday, calling for the Justice Department to file Civil Rights charges.

Zimmerman protest in Oakland turns violent Sunday

Protesters jammed the streets of 14th and Broadway near Oakland City Hall for more than three hours on Sunday, preventing any traffic from getting through. The protests started off peacefully earlier in the afternoon, but by 10 p.m., a small group began vandalizing businesses. Rocks and bottles were thrown at police and cars. Protesters also tried to crash a BART station.

"When you break the windows of restaurants, you are hurting the economy and you are hurting the jobs that are being created in the city. But the main thing is that it dishonors the memory of Trayvon," said Quan.

Quan said the vandalism happened fast, but police were able to respond quickly.

Business owners are continuing to cleanup.

"It's a window, it will be replaced. I don't think that speaks to what the real issue is here, which is social inequality and social injustice," said Dunlap.

Some residents say they wish the community would come together peacefully.

"The outcome of the trial didn't come like most people expected, however, this is our city and this is like 10 of your own homes and really doesn't make any sense because it really doesn't accomplish anything," said Oakland resident Cliff Clegg.

One person was arrested in Sunday's protests and there is still no estimate on how many businesses were damaged.

AC Transit buses had to be detoured due to the protests.

A reporter with our media partner the Bay Area News Group tweeted that she and her photographer were attacked by the crowd. She also tweeted that demonstrators attacked a TV cameraman.


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