Protesters arrested for vandalism

January 15, 2009 6:14:13 AM PST
Once again, Oakland Police had to arrest protesters that smashed store windows, bus stops, and vandalized streets.

There was a peaceful march held at Oakland's City Hall earlier in the evening, but hours later things got out of hand - with over 18 arrests being made. It was exactly the kind of behavior Oscar Grant's grieving mother begged people not to engage in. She made that plea the morning after last week's violent protest. She said Oscar would not want this kind of reaction.

At around 4 p.m. protesters staged what they called a "die-in" where 1,000 protesters lay on the ground chanting "Please don't shoot." It went on for 15 or 20 minutes and then the crowd began walking down 14th Street to the courthouse. The crowd then marched back from the Alameda courthouse to Oakland City Hall for prayers and more speeches. The official organized protest was over at 7:30 p.m., but small groups of people continued to linger.

Later in the night, there were many people who hung out on Broadway and that is where much of the night's window smashing took place. Police responded as soon as they got word, but not before much of the damage occurred. This was a huge disappointment for protest organizers and city leaders who made repeated calls for a peaceful demonstration.

Oakland Police called in every available officer into work on Wednesday night to prevent a repeat of last week's riots. Officers patrolled by helicopter, by car, were stationed on rooftops, by motorcycle and by foot. Oakland Police say they were ready, but obviously some people were able to slip through the cracks, engaging in vandalism once again.

At City Center Plaza protesters smashed the glass at a bus stop shelter and started breaking windows at a Wells Fargo Bank. They then ran though City Center Plaza, smashed windows at the Jamba Juice, Radio Shack, Quizno's, a beauty supply center, GNC, and then dispersed. Police chased the protesters all over the streets.

Police said compared to last week, there were smaller bands of people roaming around the streets. Police also said the small groups had spotters on bikes with walkie-talkies telling them where police were and were not. Some protesters had bandannas on covering their face and had backpacks on. Police searched the backpacks of some of those protesters, but there was no word of the outcome.

Around 9:15 p.m., protesters had a scuffle with police and a protester was shoved to the ground. The shoving match quickly quieted down in a matter of minutes.

For a short while the 12th and 19th Street BART stations were shut down, but were later reopened.