Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent met with business owners, frustrated over the vandalism that has battered the city's Uptown District in the aftermath of George Zimmerman's acquittal in Florida over the weekend. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Whent are promising they'll do better. The chief obviously got an earful at Wednesday afternoon's meeting.
The meeting in the Chamber Of Commerce Office was close to reporters. The chamber said they wanted members to be able to speak freely. From what we heard going in, there is no doubt they did.
"Punish the ones that commit these crimes: graffiti, breaking windows. They need to be held accountable," said Jennie Ong from the Oakland Chinatown Chamber Of Commerce.
"I can say that merchants, we're frustrated, we're exasperated...," said one merchant.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley says the police need to step up.
"We'll I think they're overwhelmed, so that's why we're having this meeting," said O'Malley.
After a little more than an hour after it began, the chief emerged, headed straight to a private debrief with the mayor and then both emerged from City Hall to tell reporters they will take what they called, "the necessary steps."
"When we're able to put higher numbers of police officers out, we're more successful at preventing violent crime and vandalism from occurring and that's what we intend to do going forward," said Whent.
The chief says another large protest is planned for this Saturday night. Quan says the city will be prepared.
"We will work with the chief to get him all his resources, as you know. The City Council passed the safety budget I asked for, we're going to be having more officers," said Quan.
The chief says he will be canceling days off for officers so enough of them will be on the streets to closely monitor the marchers.
Saturday, Sunday and Monday night protests saw dozens of store windows smashed, a BART police car trashed and a waiter at the local restaurant Flora attacked by a hammer-wielding vandal.
On Wednesday the co-owner of the restaurant said her waiter will be back on the job on Thursday and would not comment on the meeting, but said the response from the community has been great.
A lot of people will be watching the police response at the scheduled protest in Oakland this weekend.