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BART verdict: Oakland damage extensive from unrest; at least 80 arrested

Oakland officials on Friday morning were trying to sort out the damage after serious looting in the downtown area following the BART verdict in which an ex-officer who killed an unarmed man was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Crowds of people roamed the streets following Thursday’s verdict into early Friday, smashing storefront windows, stealing merchandise, setting trash fires and tagging walls.

According to Oakland police, more than 80 people were arrested. Among the stores looted included a Foot Locker, Sears, 24 Hour Fitness as well as jewelry stores. 

As of Friday, officials said calm had returned, and BART service -- which was stopped at some stations during the unrest -- had resumed.

Men sprayed graffiti on walls and windows on Broadway; one outside Tully’s Coffee read: “You can’t shoot us all.” Large fires billowed out of dumpsters on 20th Street and Telegraph Avenue.

At 20th Street and Broadway, authorities released smoke to disperse a crowd that was overrunning police and throwing bottles at officers, according to Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts.

Batts said there were probably about 100 troublemakers out of up to 800 people who showed up at 14th Street and Broadway after Thursday’s verdict, in which former transit Officer Johannes Mehserle, a white man, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Oscar J. Grant III, an unarmed black man, at the Fruitvale BART station on Jan.1, 2009. Prosecutors had sought a stronger conviction of second-degree murder.

Batts described the troublemakers as “anarchists” who came to Oakland to cause trouble and not peacefully express their views on the verdict.

“This city is not the wild, wild west,” he said. “We will allow people to protest, but we will allow it to be done peacefully.”

Workers in Oakland evacuated the downtown core after news broke that the verdict was to be read, and store owners boarded up windows.

The demonstration throughout the early evening was largely peaceful but tense. People held up photos of Grant as police equipped with helmets and riot gear looked on. A sign draped over a light post read: “Oakland says guilty.”

As darkness fell about 8 p.m. and most of the demonstrators went home, a group of people dressed in black and wearing black masks moved toward police.

“It was clear that they were taking an aggressive posture. ... We started taking a number of rocks and bottles,” Batts said. “We then made a dispersal order.”

By 8:30 p.m., the looting began. People broke windows at a Rite-Aid drugstore. A California Highway Patrol car window was smashed, as was the window of a news television van.

Residents could be heard yelling at the younger protesters in the street to “go home. This is our city. Don’t destroy it.”

The reaction in Los Angeles, where the trial was moved because of intense publicity in the Bay Area, was peaceful. A group of people upset with the verdict gathered in Leimert Park late Thursday, but the event was so peaceful that even the police left before the end. 

Grant’s uncle, Kenneth Johnson, 48, came to see the rally but did not stand up to speak. Johnson, who lives in Los Angeles, said he was unhappy with the verdict and thought justice had not been served.

He was, however, glad to see Angelenos rallying for Grant.

“L.A., Oakland, the same things go on both places,” he said.

-- Maria L. La Ganga in downtown Oakland; Abby Sewell in Leimert Park; and Rong-Gong Lin II and Louis Sahagun in Los Angeles

Photo: A demonstrator taunts officers in downtown Oakland. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (139)

Unless your the mayor and live in the Oakland Hills, Oak town is one of the msot crime infested, cities of death on the west coast. This so called riot , would have happened if the Raiders won a playoff game. So much for the sophisticated, intelligent, progressive humanistic Bay Area mystic. Imagine, Jerry Brown wants to be governor after perpetuating this cesspool. ( But his developer friends now own expensive property near Jack London Square)

Why is anyone suprised of the reaction in Oakland? Blacks are the largest group in that city. I'm sure its a great city to live in LOL. Get rid of all the cops in Oakland and let them burn down their own city. Hispanics do a good job of letting it go under like in the city of Maywood.

And thus, so quickly, they lost public support.

To stop the rioting the police should have warned them to stop or they will be tasered!

The Los Apartheid Times prefers to show the predictable and inevitable (although admitely limited) looting rather than interview legal scholars regarding the jury's verdict. The paper at least had enough money back during Rodney and OJ to interview legal scholars. Now it just parks a photographer outside a sneaker store to photograph the ghetto people getting free sneaks.

Mr. Lieto, you are an idiot. This happens all the time to Black People and people of minority. They get accidently shot all the time by police. And we never see justice. And you go and compare it to the one time a black celebrity gets off on a justice case of murder. Totally different. That doesnt erase the hundreds of being shot reaching for a wallet in NY, or the overuse of the "he was reaching for something" by police where a gun was never found. Just because you never had the police harrass you doesnt mean it doesnt happen to us. And believe me if your brother son dad or anyone related to you was "accidently" shot by the police you'd be upset too. It doesnt happen tho.

This reminds me of the riots that occured when the murderer OJ Simpson was acquitted. Oh wait a minute, there were no riots over that, were there?

We have conditioned our minority communities to throw temper tantrums everytime sonething doesn't go their way. And let's face it, 14 years in prison for a former cop is equivalent to a death sentence anyway.

Posted by: John Lieto

Pathetic that people still think that reacting in an uncivilized manner and destroying public and private property is the way to be heard. All it does is further the notion that these people (term used loosely) are criminals who are opportunistic when looking for a chance to steal and destroy. When the Rodney King riot happened, we had the same crap here in L.A. How stupid you all looked stealing everything in sight in the name of Rodney King (who proved himself to be a criminal if there ever was one).

To those of you who think that protesting in this manner is the way to go, please dismount the earth as soon as possible. We don't want you here!!!

The looting in Oakland is one more indication that the let's-blame-everything-on-the-man mentality has morally bankrupted the black community in this country. It's time for everyone, regardless of her/his race, to stand up and say "GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER!" No more guilt about slavery, no more guilt about Jim Crow, no more excuses.

Brown people doing brown things, color me unsurprised.

one rioter said"you can't shoot us all" yeah, but we can give it a damn good try

Why on earth an unsatisfactory verdict makes people want to loot is beyond me. Seems like people were just looking for an excuse to steal.
I don't necessarly agree with the verdict, either...but I'm not going to go and break into a store and steal because of it.
People, if you are upset at an outcome, you SHOULD be outraged. You should work to change the laws, not work to break them in response.

And they wonder why urban renewal projects fail year after year and small businesses are bailing out from what was once a great town with a great setting.

Why did people loot businesses and destroy property? What's that got to do with the officer who shot the young man? Why are they taking out their anger on people who had absolutely NOTHING to do with this case in any way shape or form??? Business owners are regular people too, earning a living like anyone, and now they will have to spend money out of their own pockets to repair the damage. It just doesn't make any sense to me at all.

I know these thugs only represent a small minority, but the next time people in the "inner cities" complain about large chain business(es) not establishing themselves into their neighborhoods -- where they can sell items at far less cost to the area's poor --- well, this is why.

Darkness does not fall about 8 pm in Oakland in July. The sun does not even set until 8:30 and there's an hour of twilight. I sense a writer sitting in Los Angeles throwing in meaningless embellishment.

So did the "group of people dressed in black" converge in broad daylight, or after dark? I would like to know.

In any case, Mehserle is a sorry misdemeanorer who will be over sentenced by the laws designed to oppress Blacks. He's not a felon. No one ever testified that Mehserle had a felonious thought. He should have been convicted of misdemeanor manslaughter and be in and out of prison by now.

Hey it just shows who they are... They don't like a verdict... Hey I didn't like the O.J. verdict either but I didn't loot... Must be a racial thing!!!!!!!!!!!

Kenneth Johnson, 48, said “L.A., Oakland, the same things go on both places."

The areas where uneducated, poor blacks live is always high in crime and blight. These same rioters would have done the exact same thing even if the former BART officer had been found guilty of First Degree Murder and sentenced to death!

Foot Locker,Sears,24 hour fitness and any store damaged should just pull out and leave the cesspool. Make the people travel if they want items from these retailers....Idiots!


Of course there are 'bad' cops, and of course every now and then, an otherwise 'good cop' makes a really bad mistake.

The bad ones should be dealt with like criminals, and the incompetent ones fixed or fired.

But the key in all of this hoopla is .... how come nobody riots when some gangster-thug-criminal kills a good-cop, or some innocent bystander?

What does it say about a society when violent gangsters get a cultural free pass, while any mishap by the underpaid/overworked people that actually risk their lives everyday to protect us, causes a riot?

I say ... next time some ganster-thug murders an innocent ... decent hard-working people should also take to the streets and riot in protest to the out of control criminal element in our midst! At least then we'd be consistent in our society's stance against 'bad people'.


I say shoot them all. This guy was arrested for something. Maybe his parent did not teach him to respect authority.
Cop was all ampt up and pulled the gun instead of taser. There now hes dead and son is fatherless.

What can you loot from a 24 hour fitness? Did they have trucks to move equipment out? Oakland is way more organized than LA.

This article is a damn shame. It completely tries to distract us from the real truth: that the verdict is an injustice to any human being and people have a right to be mad and take it to the cops and the streets when such an injustice occurs. Petty property more important than a life? Oscar Grant is far more important than petty property.

To Richard Long:
sorry Buddy-you are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO wrong.
Yes I am white, my uncle was a cop and my grandfather was a cop, so I do know cops.
There is no reason ever to ruin other people's livelihoods over a perceived injustice.
Why don't you read all the comments and evaluate the underlying theme-everyone is sick of this tribal and animalistic reaction to everything that your "people" don't agree with. Get the hell out of the country-try to find somewhere else where they would put up with your crap.
As the sign said:"you can't kill us all" but we can sure try, until you decide to behave like humans and not some tribal herd.
Biggest mistake ever made was slavery, not because of the work people were forced to do, but because it brought your minority into this country. It will be regretted forever!!!

"And justice for all", what a chock of crap that is!

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