OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Police in Oakland have issued an open letter to the community lamenting the violence that broke out over a three-day period last week during protests against racial injustice, with businesses, civic facilities and police officers targeted and the majority of those arrested coming from outside the city.
The protests were held on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and promoted with the hashtag #YayAreaRevolution, police said. During those three events, several hundred people gathered and marched through Oakland’s downtown and residential areas, as well as the Grand Lake commercial area.
On Wednesday, businesses were damaged, windows were broken and several fires set. Members of the crowd also set fire to the Alameda County Superior Courthouse, structures, vehicles, and trash cans and caused more than $100,000 in damages to the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, police said.
“The crowds were violent, destructive, and displayed hostility towards our community members and police officers,” said the letter. “The intentions of the crowd were not peaceful but deliberate; through their words and actions, they demonstrated their focused and targeted intentions to destroy and damage our already vulnerable business community.”
Residents who attempted to deter the crowd on Wednesday were themselves threatened with violence the destruction, and businesses that remained open were warned to close down or they would be burned down, police said. Officers were also repeatedly targeted with rocks, bottles, and laser pointers, according to the letter.
“OPD will continue to facilitate safe spaces and places for peaceful protests, we ask those organizing gatherings in Oakland to remain peaceful,” the letter said. “#OPDCARES initiative is about all of us working together as a community, to help stop the tragic loss of life and reduce the level of violence in our city. Collectively, we want to ensure Oaklanders and our visitors are safe in our community.”
Police said officers deployed gas and smoke against crowds on Friday and Saturday. There was no damage reported to any businesses on those two days, except for graffiti on a commercial building on Saturday.
At least 21 businesses had windows broken on Wednesday, many of which have been damaged before, while an affordable housing complex on Grand Avenue was also damage. The Oakland Fire Department reported 25-30 fires including two vehicles totaled by fire, police said.