OAKLAND (KPIX/AP) — After hundreds marched in downtown Oakland Saturday night, workers spent Sunday boarding up windows, cleaning up graffiti and repairing rifts between groups of protesters.
The stated goal of the protest was to demand social justice and show solidarity for protesters in the streets of Portland who have been in a standoff with federal agents for more than a week.
After a peaceful beginning, some demonstrators started breaking windows at the Alameda County courthouse and a woman got hurt. That set off a disagreement.
In a moment captured on video by freelance photographer Kent Kessinger, two protesters with bullhorns begin arguing about whether it is appropriate to break windows and lock heads with police.
“If you’re about Black lives, come with us,” one protester said. “If you’re about breaking glass and confronting police and some bull****, stay with them.”
About 700 demonstrators participated in what started as a peaceful march Saturday night but then some broke from the larger group and smashed windows, spray-painted graffiti and pointed lasers at officers, said Officer Johnna Watson, an Oakland police spokesperson.
Several fires were set in the downtown area. Demonstrators hurled rocks, ceramic paint-filled balls and frozen water bottles through windows at the courthouse, federal building and police building in a raucous night that was unlike peaceful marches that have taken place in the city in recent weeks, Watson said.
“This was different,” Watson said. “This group of protesters had specific intentions to participate in one way or another — whether that’s carrying backpacks in with clearly very heavy items, and the smaller group would actually be engaged in doing the damage — there is a nexus with all of the attendees.”
Police made several arrests but did not provide details. There were no immediate reports of injuries to protesters or officers or immediate cost estimates of the vandalism, Watson said.
The protest began earlier Saturday evening with groups such as the “Wall of Moms,” similar to a group that formed in Portland, Oregon, as protesters faced off with U.S. agents deployed to that city to guard a federal courthouse. President Donald Trump had sent the federal agents there to clamp down on protests that have occurred nightly since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
As the night wore on in Oakland, Watson said police called on demonstrators to disperse and little by little they did, but said they would be back.
“The city is here to provide safe places and safe spaces for demonstrations, for marches, for protests,” Watson said, adding that many area businesses were likely spared damage because they were already boarded up following earlier demonstrations. “However, when there is violence against the police or first responders, this makes it dangerous for everyone.”
On Sunday, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf warned in a statement that the vandalism could be used by Trump to justify sending federal agents to the city — a proposal that she has rejected.
“Vandalizing our downtown gives Donald Trump the images he wants and the justification he seeks to send federal troops into American cities,” the mayor warned. “We can’t be fooled and play into his twisted campaign strategy … Oaklanders need to know that when they attend protests after dark they may be providing cover for agitators who are more intent on stoking civil unrest than advancing racial justice.”
“This is a time when everyone should be in the streets, this is a moment when history turns,” said Barry Thornton with Refuse FascismSF, one of the groups that protested Saturday.
“The mayor is missing the point. What Trump is doing is not a campaign strategy, there may be an element of that. But it’s mainly about a consolidation of fascism.”
Asked about the disagreement among protesters, Thornton said, “Unity of the people is very important. It’s something to be worked for and that we must strive for. And yes, everybody doesn’t have the same opinion of what to do. We need to find the ways to work together and I think that in the main, that’s happening. And it’s very important that we strive to do that.”
The unrest Saturday and early Sunday stemmed from the weeks of protests over racial injustice and the police treatment of people of color that flared up after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, who was Black and handcuffed, died after a white police officer used his knee to pin down Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes while Floyd begged for air.
A violent protest also broke out late Saturday in Sacramento. After a peaceful demonstration, police said a separate group of 150 protesters wearing black clothing and protective gear broke windows and spray-painted graffiti.
A television news crew was assaulted and forced to leave the area and one person was arrested, police said in a statement.
In Los Angeles, police said a peaceful demonstration was disrupted Saturday when some individuals in the crowd assaulted officers and walked onto a freeway. Four officers and three demonstrators were treated for minor injuries and four people were arrested, Los Angeles police said on Twitter.
About 100 protesters gathered at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles Saturday evening, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said in a release. Protesters broke the glass on the front entrance door and wrote graffiti on the front of the building while there for a few minutes.
The prison was secured and barricade fencing was put up, the release said. There were no serious injuries.
In Seattle, police officers retreated into a precinct station early Sunday, hours after large demonstrations in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Some demonstrators lingered after officers filed into the department’s East Precinct around 1 a.m., but most cleared out a short time later, according to video posted online.
At a late-night news conference, Seattle police Chief Carmen Best called for peace. Rocks, bottles, fireworks and mortars were fired at police during the weekend unrest, and police said they arrested at least 45 people for assaults on officers, obstruction and failure to disperse. Twenty-one officers were hurt, with most of their injuries considered minor, police said.
In Portland, thousands of people gathered Saturday evening for another night of protests over George Floyd’s killing and the presence of federal agents recently sent to the city by President Donald Trump. Protesters breached a fence surrounding the city’s federal courthouse building where the agents have been stationed.
Police declared the situation to be a riot and at around 1:20 a.m., they began ordering people to leave the area surrounding the courthouse or risk arrest, saying on Twitter that the violence had created “a grave risk” to the public. About 20 minutes later, federal officers and local police could be seen attempting to clear the area and deploying tear gas, however protesters remained past 2:30 a.m., forming lines across intersections and holding makeshift shields as police patrolled and closed blocks abutting the area. Multiple arrests were made, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many.
In the Texas capital of Austin, a protester was shot and killed Saturday night after witnesses say he approached a car that had driven through a march against police violence. In video streamed live on Facebook, a car can be heard honking before several shots ring out and protesters start screaming and scattering for cover. Police could then be seen tending to someone lying in the street.
Michael Capochiano, who attended the protest, told the Austin American-Statesman that the slain protester had a rifle and that the car’s driver fired several shots at him before speeding away. Police said the driver was detained and was cooperating with investigators.
In the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colorado, meanwhile, a protester shot and wounded someone after a car drove through a crowd marching on an interstate highway, police said. The wounded person was taken to a hospital in stable condition. Police didn’t release many details about the shooting, including whether the person who was shot had been in the car. Police said on Twitter that demonstrators also caused “major damage,” to a courthouse.
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