OAKLAND (KCBS) — Glass from shattered windows, graffiti, and debris littered the streets Saturday in the aftermath of Friday’s May Day demonstration in Oakland. As the cleanup effort got underway, the damage was described as the worst seen in years.
Late Friday night, violent protesters broke windows at businesses and damaged dozens of vehicles along Broadway’s Auto Row. They even set cars on fire.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff said it was a very small band within the group of 300 or so demonstrators, who were responsible for the damage.
“They came with rocks in their pockets and malice in their hearts,” said Schaff. “There is a huge difference between cowardly vandalism in the dark of night, masked and cloaked by large crowds and what is an incredibly important conversation that this country is having.”
There were May Day demonstrations across the country Friday. Oakland’s protest in front of City Hall was peaceful as #BlackLivesMatter and May Day demonstrators focused on racism, police brutality, and income inequality.
Police Chief Sean Whent said his department faced many challenges Friday. Staffing was difficult because officers shifts had been staggered throughout the day to cover other May Day events. Also, the cloud cover Friday night prevented full use of police helicopters.
“OPD officers were able to make 12 arrests,” said Whent, “The offenses ranged from burglary to vandalism to failing to disperse.”
Whent said the damage was among the worst he’s seen in years.
Schaff said the city is helping businesses who suffered damage through the Chamber of Commerce.