BART verdict: Rocks, bottles thrown at Oakland police, who are largely maintaining order [Updated]
Demonstrators in downtown Oakland threw rocks and bottles at police officers, but protesters upset at the BART verdict Wednesday were mostly peaceful early Thursday evening.
Apart from the rocks and bottles and a small fire, “this is going well at this point,” said Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts.
One woman was reported to have hurt her leg, but refused treatment. About 5:30 p.m., a crowd had trapped an AC Transit bus and several cars, but police were able to allow them to leave, Batts said.
At one point, a small ignition device was set off by the Oakland police headquarters at 7th Street and Broadway, and Batts ordered police to keep the crowd away from the station. A law enforcement official told KTVU-TV that they do not plan to allow the crowd to march through the city.
Police have kept the crowd of about 500 to 800 people bottled up along a two block stretch of Broadway, in the heart of downtown. Additional law enforcement personnel from San Leandro, Hayward, Fremont and the California Highway Patrol were helping out. The downtown area underwent a virtual voluntary evacuation earlier Thursday afternoon, with employers and workers feared a disturbance following the verdict. Store owners boarded up their windows.
There were tense moments. Before 6:30 p.m., a standoff between police in riot gear and protesters at 12th Street and Broadway was defused after some women intervened and told the crowd violence was not appropriate, the Oakland Tribune reported.
Chief Batts said he would continue to give demonstrators "a wide berth” to express their feelings.
“I want to compliment people ... for their passion for peace,” Mayor Ron Dellums said at a news conference.
[Updated, 8:11 p.m.: One person was arrested for fighting with police officers, the Oakland Tribune reported. With the sun setting, many people are leaving the downtown area, local media reported.]
-- Rong-Gong Lin II
Photo: Peaceful protesters in Oakland. Credit: Alonis via Twitpic