OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Protesters marched through the streets of Oakland Thursday night, blocking intersections and adding their voices to the nationwide demonstrations demanding justice for George Floyd.
But unlike the images of violent confrontation coming out of Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed by a police officer on Monday, the Oakland demonstration was for the most part a peaceful one.
The only real disruption was to traffic as the gathering of roughly 50 protesters weaved their way through the city. They shut down the 27th and Grand Ave. off ramp of 980, bringing traffic to a crawl. Protesters then blocked an intersection near Oakland Police headquarters.
Among the marchers was Cali, who told KPIX 5 she felt the need to make her voice heard.
“It’s scary,” Cali said. “I fear for my life. I have friends who have kids, I have cousins. I fear for all young men’s life.”
Late Thursday, Oakland Police Chief Susan E. Manheimer issued a statement saying, “The men and women of the Oakland Police Department are deeply disturbed at what we observed in the video involving George Floyd and the Minneapolis Police Department … We stand with our community in denouncing this incident and all incidents of police brutality. We stand with all in our community who have traditionally been marginalized, oppressed, and who have been harmed by our systems and institutions. We extend our deepest condolences to George Floyd and his family.”
The Board of Directors of the San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose Police Officers Associations also issued a joint statement over Floyd’s death:
“What’s depicted in that video is not who we are as law enforcement professionals. We actively train and seek training, to safely manage similar situations we encounter to ensure safe resolutions. On the very same day of Mr. Floyd’s death, there were literally millions of encounters and interactions with public safety professionals throughout our country that were peaceful, respectful, and problem-solving oriented. We will not let the failures shown in this incident tarnish the hard work and sacrifice of those officers who get it right on a daily basis.”
The scene was much different in Minneapolis where Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz called in the National Guard on Thursday as looting broke out in St. Paul while a wounded Minneapolis braced for more violence after rioting over the death Floyd reduced parts of one neighborhood to a smoking shambles.
Cheering protesters broke into a Minneapolis police precinct station Thursday night after the department abandoned it, setting it ablaze and setting off fireworks.
A police spokesman confirmed that the staff had evacuated the 3rd precinct station, the focus of many of the protests, “in the interest of the safety of our personnel” shortly after 10 p.m. Livestream video showed the protesters entering the building, where fire alarms blared and sprinklers ran as blazes were set.
Protesters could be seen setting fire to a Minneapolis Police Department jacket and cheering.
Protests also spread to other U.S. cities. In Los Angeles, hundreds of people protesting Floyd’s death blocked a freeway and shattered windows of CHP cruisers.
Memphis police blocked a main thoroughfare after a racially-mixed group of protesters gathered outside a police precinct. The situation intensified later in the night, with police donning riot gear and protesters standing shoulder-to-shoulder in front of officers stationed behind a barricade.
Floyd, 46, was arrested Monday after an employee at a grocery store called police to accuse him of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. The cellphone video shows Floyd face-down on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back, as officer Derek Chauvin uses the knee restraint on his neck.
Floyd’s head is turned to the side and he does not appear to be resisting. As the minutes ticked by and Chauvin continued to hold him down, Floyd’s complaints about not being able to breathe stop as he fell silent and motionless. Toward the end of the video, paramedics arrive, lift a limp Floyd onto a stretcher and place him in an ambulance.
“He wasn’t actively resisting, and he was saying he couldn’t breathe,” said Charles P. Stephenson, a former police officer and FBI agent with expertise in use-of-force tactics. “You have to understand that possibility is there (that Floyd couldn’t breathe), and you release any kind of restriction you might have on an airway immediately.”
Chauvin and the three other responding officers have been fired, and the FBI is investigating whether they willfully deprived Floyd of his civil rights. Chauvin has not spoken publicly, and his attorney has not responded to calls seeking comment.