Rally against Mehserle sentence ends in arrests
November 5, 2010 8:04 PM
Demonstrators took to the streets of Oakland, Calif. tonight following the sentencing of former transit officer Johannes Mehserle, who received two years with credit for time served - the minimum sentence possible - for shooting Oscar Grant III in the back on a crowded BART platform Jan. 1, 2009.
More than 100 people were arrested when police blocked a march after a peaceful rally held at City Hall erupted into sporadic incidents of violence, police said.
The protesters, who police said have been charged with various crimes from unlawful assembly, vandalism, destruction of property and assault with a deadly weapon, were transported to the North County and Santa Rita Jails.
"This city has been torn up too many times," Police Chief Anthony Batts said during a press conference.
Angry protesters smashed windows, damaged vehicles, vandalized businesses and at least two police officers were injured in separate incidents, police said.
"It started going wrong when the rally ended," said Jeff Thomason, a spokesman with the police dept.
One officer was injured when he was struck in the chest with a brick and a car hit another officer, Thomason said.
"There were rocks being thrown at police officers," Thomason said.
In another incident, he said, a protester grabbed hold of a police officer's firearm. Police said the weapon was quickly recovered.
The march began after a rally held at City Hall ended at 6 p.m. Protesters were relatively peaceful throughout, though anger toward the judge's decision was evident.
"We can't just leave here like this." Julia Wallace said on the steps of City Hall, prior to the march. "This isn't sadness that I feel, this is anger I feel."
Police came out in full force and while Batts refused to tell reporters exactly how many police were deployed for the night's anticipated aftermath, it was clear that officers greatly outnumbered protesters.
Although many protesters said they hoped to reach the Fruitvale BART station where Grant's shooting occurred, police barriers forced the demonstration into smaller streets off the main thoroughfares. What began downtown quickly moved to residential neighborhoods and was ultimately stopped by police at E. 17th Street and 6th Avenue.
Hundreds of police officers in riot gear then surrounded demonstrators and declared the street a crime scene. Police allowed members of the news media to leave the blockaded section of the street just before informing the protesters they were under arrest for unlawful assembly.
"This is how they want you to act!" Renna Busby yelled as the march became aggressive. "Somebody is dead and you guys are acting like animals!"
Busby became angered by the march, which she viewed as violent, as she was walking with her young daughter downtown.
Some residents felt the heated protest was counterproductive.
"Somebody was murdered and we need to take out his name in peace!" Busby said.
Residents near Lake Merritt where police ultimately ended the demonstrations left their homes to watch as police processed those arrested.
"It sent a message to a lot of people of color." Joyce Malone said.
Malone said that while she disagreed with the verdict and Mehserle's sentence, she was reluctant to join in the demonstrations because of the violence.
"You don't prove anything with violence," she said.
Residents of the surrounding neighborhood were surprised that the protest traveled so far from downtown.
"I've never seen so many police," said Karin Jenkins. "They were marching in twos as if it was a war."
Jenkins, an Oakland resident, manages a building located feet away from the barricade.
She stood for more than an hour at the corner of East 18th St. and 7th Ave. hoping to catch a glimpse of the aftermath. She never expected the protest to reach her neighborhood, Jenkins said.
"At first we were thinking let's just hope they don't tear up Oakland," she said. "This is so important because it happened right here in our neighborhood."
You can also experience more multimedia.
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University