Evening Mehserle protests turn ugly
on November 5, 2010
Updated 8:54 p.m.: Police have begun arresting protesters who had been wandering raucously around Oakland in response to the announcement of the Johannes Mehserle sentencing.
Oakland Police spokesperson Jeff Thomason estimated that more than 100 protesters have been arrested. Sixteen have been booked, he said.
As darkness fell over downtown Oakland, a peaceful rally in Frank Ogawa Plaza moved into the streets, where an estimated 300 to 500 protesters began blocking traffic and jumping on moving cars.
A police officer was reportedly injured, believed to be by an accidental collision with a vehicle. His condition has not been announced.
At a 7 p.m. press conference, Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said the protest had officially been declared an illegal gathering. Officers had planned to escort Grant supporters to DeFremery Park in West Oakland at 6 p.m., but Batts said he did not know why those plans were changed.
As the crowd moved around downtown, protesters blocked traffic at 14th Street and Broadway. They marched east, chanting, carrying signs, and continuing to jump on cars. A protester was reportedly arrested for pulling a gun from a police officer’s holster and pointing the weapon at the officer. Other arrests have been made throughout the evening.
After moving southeast from downtown, the protesters were eventually corralled in a residential neighborhood on 6th Avenue between 17th and 18th streets. Around 8:15 p.m., police declared this area a crime scene and began loading protesters onto an Alameda County Sheriff’s Office bus.
Batts said police are taking things slowly. “I don’t want to rush it. I don’t think it’s a speed thing,” Batts said. “I think it’s announcing, announcing, announcing so that people have the option to withdraw or leave.”
As the protesters moved away from downtown earlier in the evening, a line of police officers in full riot gear confronted them near Laney College, forcing the march to head through Peralta Park.
The march continued east down International Boulevard and appeared to head toward Fruitvale BART, the site of Oscar Grant’s death on January 1, 2009. At International Boulevard and 2nd Avenue, the window of a market was smashed.
In the area where protesters have been surrounded by police, residents voiced mixed emotions about the protest. “I understand how people feel, but it’s a huge disturbance to the neighborhood,” said Meshana Valerio, 30, who lives on 5th Avenue near 17th Street “It’s a nuisance to the community and officers who are here.”
Police would not allow Valerio to cross the line of police to go back to her house.
The initial rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza, organized by the Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant, was ordered to disperse by Oakland Police at 6 p.m.
“We want to send a message that it’s unjust. We need to organize every person of color in the neighborhood,” said Nick, 23, a protester from Oakland who declined to give his last name. “We need to shut down the port to show its unacceptable and that the streets belong to the people.”
Oakland North will continue covering the evening’s events as they unfold.
Teresa Chin, Nicole Jones, and Roberto Daza contributed reporting for this article.
Lead image: Protestors swarm downtown Oakland around 6:30 p.m. after leaving a scheduled rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Read our past coverage of the Johannes Mehserle trial on Oakland North here.
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