On Wednesday, the Oakland Police Department released photos of people allegedly looting and destroying property during the protests following last week’s verdict in the 2009 shooting death of Oscar Grant. They published 15 photos on the department’s website in the hopes that citizens will come forward to identify those in the photos. A $1,000 reward is being offered for each person identified.
Police department officials say they received these photos from protestors and people observing the rally. The photographs show alleged looters running in and out of Foot Locker, Sears and a beauty supply store carrying everything from sneakers to piles of T-shirts; in one, a man is holding a mannequin. There is also one photo of a man breaking a window on the Sears building.
“We need the public to come forward to give us their names so we can follow up and arrest them,” said Jeff Thomason, a public information officer for the Oakland Police Department. “I know the citizens of Oakland are very upset about what took place in their city,” he added.
Last Thursday, after the release of the verdict of involuntary manslaughter for Johannes Mehserle, a BART police officer who was accused of murdering 22-year-old Oscar Grant on a BART station platform in January 2009, protesters gathered in downtown Oakland to demonstrate. The majority of people gathered protested peacefully, but after the rally ended, a small number of protesters looted businesses and vandalized downtown Oakland, destroying property, setting fires in trashcans and breaking storefront windows.
Police arrested 78 people that night. The majority got off with misdemeanors, such as failure to disperse. Nine people received felony charges, including arson, property damage and burglary. Police department officials say they will make more arrests if the people in the photos can be identified.
Police are considering a variety of charges, including burglary, which is a felony, and looting. “This was a major event that took place in the City of Oakland,” Thomason said, “and we are going to go after them and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”
The full set of photos can be seen on the Oakland Police Department’s website.
Read our past coverage of the Johannes Mehserle trial on Oakland North here.