After Riots, Oakland Protestors Still Heated

Published January 9, 2009

Hundreds of downtown Oakland businesses are still cleaning up damage to buildings after a violent protest.

In a scene resembling the uprising after the verdict from 1992's Rodney King beating trial in Los Angeles, about 100 people were arrested for breaking windows and trashing stores days after a 22-year-old Black man’s death.

But as others had done in L.A., some of those vandalizing in outrage over the police shooting of Oscar Grant III left Black-owned establishments damaged, knowingly or otherwise.

“Most of the customers were unaware of what was happening, but we knew the mob was coming toward us,” restaurant manager Andee Brown tells the San Francisco Chronicle. “We told the (night) manager to pull in the awnings and be ready to lock the door. She locked the door, but then, seconds later, they threw a concrete vase through the window.”

An estimated 300 stores and dozens of cars were hit with the fury of demonstrators. The Wednesday afternoon protest began peacefully at the Fruitvale transit station where a cop, Johannes Mehserle, was videotaped appearing to fire a shot into 22-year-old Grant's back as Grant lay handcuffed on New Year's Day. Mehserle resigned this week without appearing for questioning by transit officials investigating the incident.

Authorities say the protest became unruly as the afternoon turned to night. Transit officials had already shut down the station where the incident occurred, though demonstrators were still calm at the time.

Grant, 22, was laid to rest just hours before the vandalism in the streets took place. Palma Ceia Baptist Church's Deacon Eugene Carter told mourners that Grant, who worked as a grocery store butcher, was wise beyond his years. "I met Oscar when he was young, 6, 7, 8 years old," Carter said. “Oscar always knew so much, for a young person. It seemed like he knew as much as some adults.” 

Written by From Staff & Wire Services

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