OAKLAND, Calif. (KCBS) Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Oakland Thursday afternoon and evening as a way of voicing their displeasure with the verdict in the Johannes Mehserle trial.
Most of the people gathered on the streets near downtown Oakland at Broadway and 14th streets. The early afternoon protests were fairly peaceful with a heavy police presence helping to ward off any acts of violence.
Around 5:30 p.m., the large group starting taking to the streets, moving down Broadway and getting in confrontations with police. This included pelting them with bottles and rocks and pulling down police barricades.
Earlier in the evening, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, surrounded by other city and police officials, held a news conference calling for nonviolent demonstrations.
Government Schwarzenegger agreed with Dellums, releasing a statement and promising state aid if things got out of hand.
Nightfall Leads to Unruliness
Most of the earlier crowd had dispersed, calling it a day. But around 8:30 p.m., officers began to corral hundreds of people on Broadway Street.
Tensions began to rise and finally, the police declared an unlawful assembly, putting on gas masks and pulling out clubs.
They ordered the crowd to move or be subject to arrest or force.
It was at this time when trouble started. A diverse group of about 200 people started confronting police, seemingly hell-bent on destruction.
Small groups of what police officials called “hooded anarchists” began smashing windows, looting businesses and setting trash bins on fire.
One group tore through the metal gate protecting a Footlocker store on Broadway near 14th Street, shattering a window and emptying the shelves.
They moved across the street and vandalized a bank, including spraying graffiti on the walls.
That led to conflicts with police and the arrest of at least 50-100 people.
Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said the people causing trouble did not seem to be Oakland residents, as he described them as outsiders.