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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Racial Justice
Oakland Response to Mehserle Verdict - Street Action: photos (2 of 3)
At the conclusion of the community gathering at 14th and Broadway on the day the Involuntary Manslaughter verdict for Johannes Mehserle was announced, Oakland police, backed up by forces from across the region, had amassed up to 1000 officers, most in some form of riot gear, blocking the main exit points from the area. The hundreds of police who had been lined up at 12th and Broadway pushed the crowd north, closing in the area people had to gather. While there were mumblings of a march by those in the crowd, there was no where to go, except to squeeze through the narrow corner entrance to Frank Ogawa Plaza.
As dark began to set in, graffiti went up and windows were broken on Broadway between 14th and 15th Streets. A number of people pushed through the metal gates protecting the Foot Locker store and began to throw individual shoes in the air over the crowd. Police were obviously aware of what was happening as they had a line at 15th and Broadway, as well as snipers and lookouts on rooftops and presumably undercover officers in the crowd, yet they did nothing. Eventually, box after box of shoes and other sporting gear began to come out of the store. Some attempts were made to ignite empty shoe boxes strewn throughout the block.
It wasn't until nearly an hour after the community gathering concluded that police formed a line on 14th just west of Broadway, donned gas masks, and made an announcement about an illegal assembly that could not be heard by those on Broadway. As the police line moved toward Broadway and rounded the intersection at 14th, turning north, a voice on a loudspeaker could be heard commanding officers to "make arrests, make arrests" as they slowly moved forward. Police began to tackle random people, using their nightsticks, with multiple officers piling onto each individual they targeted, pushing them into the pavement. Several bloody faces were seen as police lifted arrestees to take them away.
From there, most of the crowd had managed to squeeze through the opening into Frank Ogawa Plaza while others made it further up Broadway and Telegraph where more graffiti went up, more windows were broken, at least three additional stores had merchandise expropriated, and several dumpsters and trash cans were set on fire. Before midnight, those in the streets had largely dispersed and police set up lines at various intersections and marched through downtown in large platoons.
Councilmember Desley Brooks, this man pictured, city employees, and others in orange safety vests attempted to protect the bank from further damage. They would run up on people who darted out of the crowd toward the building, shouting, "no, no, no," until the would-be vandals turned around. One man who had been amongst the crowd in plain clothes with a camera and a City of Oakland press badge, stood in front of a window that had been almost entirely knocked out, acting as if he was coincidentally standing there and was not at that particular spot to prevent entry into the bank.
This protection of the bank continued while the Foot Locker across the street was being cleaned out. It continued for maybe ten minutes until a lit road flare came flying from the middle of the crowd towards an opening in one of the bank's windows. The flare missed the opening, ricocheted off of remaining glass, and landed on the sidewalk near Desley Brooks' feet, at which point she and her comrades fled the scene.
More on "Off the Pigs": http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/11/12/18329295.php
Sears was another corporate store that had merchandise expropriated, bedsheets from a display window in the corner seen here.
At this point, police were firing "less-than-lethal" shotgun shells at people to facilitate arrests.
Three people detained here after having "less-than-lethal" shotgun shells fired at or near them at close range, then the shotguns themselves pointed at their heads as they lay prone on the sidewalk. One arrestee is not pictured, handcuffed off to the right of this photo. Two were released at the scene after being searched and having their photos taken.
Shotgun shells litter the sidewalk directly in front of detainees (you can see them in front of police car in photo above)