Oakland Reacts: Aftermath of Protests Over Michael Brown Killing
A fire set by protesters on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland during Tuesday night's unrest. (Alex Emslie/KQED)
Don Clyde, Mark Andrew Boyer, Alex Emslie, Olivia Allen-Price and Adam Grossberg contributed to this report.
Update, 12:05 p.m. Wednesday: Oakland police are reporting 92 people were arrested during Tuesday night's protests "for a variety of crimes." A merchants' group in the city's Temescal neighborhood, centered on Telegraph Avenue north of downtown, says about 13 businesses suffered damage there. Emeryville officials said one business, near 40th Street and San Pablo Avenue, was vandalized.
Update, 11:50 p.m. Tuesday: A summary of tonight's events in Oakland: Protesters taking to the street briefly blocked freeways -- Interstate 980 during the tail end of the evening rush hour, I-580 later in the evening.
The protests began at two downtown locations -- 14th and Broadway and on lower Broadway near police headquarters, then headed to I-980, on the edge of West Oakland, up San Pablo Avenue for a short distance, over to Telegraph Avenue, then up Telegraph into the Temescal District before heading west to 55th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, then west and south into Emeryville.
Many episodes of vandalism were recorded, and at one point, marchers ignited a trash fire that stretched all the way across Telegraph just south of MacArthur Boulevard.
The Rev. Ben McBride of Oakland walked between the crowd of protesters and the line of police marching through the trash-fire barricade. He said the vandalism is counterproductive.
"The conversation about justice for Mike Brown is a bigger conversation about whether we believe that law enforcement officials can commit crimes while they are on duty," he said, adding that's an issue that particularly affects young black men.
"Darren Wilson said that he felt like a 5-year-old grabbing onto Hulk Hogan -- if you are that afraid of black men in your community, you should not police in communities where we live," McBride said. "We are not superhuman, and we are not subhuman. We are human beings and we need to be treated that way."
Numerous arrests have been reported in the news media, especially after members of the crowd scrambled up an embankment near 34th Street and Telegraph to get onto I-580. We haven't seen any numbers for arrests at this point, though.
Here's our Storify of social media coverage and images of tonight's events, followed by our earlier updates:
Update, 10:05 p.m. Tuesday: Just before 10 p.m., Oakland police gave protesters an order to disperse at 40th and Telegraph. KQED's Alex Emslie reports the crowd in that area appears to have thinned.
There are reports of looting at a T-Mobile and paint store. Windows are smashed at multiple businesses, including a Mercedes-Benz dealership, Subway and Bank of the West branch.
Update, 9:39 p.m. Tuesday: Protests in Oakland continue to get more tense as the night progresses. Around 9 p.m., demonstrators were able to access Interstate 580 and stop traffic in both directions.
KQED's Alex Emslie reports that fires have been set to trash bins and mattresses around 34th and Telegraph. Glass doors at a Walgreens were smashed. Multiple loud explosions, possibly M-80s, startled the crowd.
At MacArthur and Telegraph, a California Highway Patrol patrol car was surrounded by a crowd of protesters who began beating on the car and smashing windows. Officers charged in and made several arrests. Emslie captured video of the incident.
Update, 7 p.m. Tuesday: Hundreds of protesters in Oakland briefly shut down Interstate 980 during the evening commute. Police quickly cleared the demonstrators off the highway, and escorted the protesters as they marched downtown.
About 100 protesters in San Francisco peacefully marched from Mission and 24th Streets to the police station.
Update, 1:50 p.m. Tuesday: A handful of downtown Oakland businesses vandalized in the wake of last night's Ferguson protests have been cleaning up today as city officials update their account of the evening's arrests. From the Oakland Tribune:
Authorities said 47 people were arrested as protesters threw rocks, bottles and paint at police and buildings. Of the 47 arrests, 13 were made on Interstate 580, when protesters climbed on the freeway, authorities said. The other arrests were made in the area of 8th Street and Broadway.
Those arrested were taken by sheriff's van to Santa Rita Jail. Most were cited for a variety of crimes, including assaulting officers, burglary, failure to disperse, resisting arrest, vandalism, and public intoxication.
Authorities have not yet released names or ages of those arrested, but said 16 were Oakland residents. The hometowns for the rest included San Leandro, Berkeley, El Sobrante, Chico, Santa Rosa, Chicago and Silver Springs, Maryland. Some arrestees were from Oregon, but hometowns were not given.
Protests related to the Ferguson case -- in which a county grand jury decided not to indict a police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown during an altercation last August -- continued Tuesday.
In San Jose, about 30 people gathered outside City Hall at noontime chanting "no justice, no peace." In Oakland, activists planned to gather at police headquarters at 5 p.m.
Update, 7 a.m. Tuesday: The focus of last night's protest moved late Monday from the Grand-Lake district, where protesters shut down Interstate 580 for about two hours, back to downtown Oakland. There, the gathering took a more destructive turn, with several businesses along lower Broadway vandalized. A Starbucks, Metro PCS store and Smart and Final outlets had their windows smashed and were looted. Windows were also smashed at branches of Wells Fargo and Chase banks. Police arrested more than 40 people.
Here's Mayor Jean Quan's statement summarizing the action and the police response:
For several hours the protest in Oakland Monday night was peaceful. It’s unfortunate that some demonstrators then decided to close down the freeway, placing themselves, our officers and many uninvolved motorists at great risk. A smaller group of people then caused vandalism and broke into businesses around a four-block area downtown, breaking windows, painting graffiti and setting garbage cans on fire.
This property destruction and violence was completely unacceptable. However, thanks to the remarkable dedication and professionalism of our police, few people were injured and nobody was seriously hurt. Oakland Police Department officers showed tremendous restraint in the face of hundreds of demonstrators throwing bottles and rocks at them and provoking them for hours. OPD’s tactics prevented people from being hurt and helped us arrest more than 40 of the vandals. We will work diligently today and in the coming weeks to ensure that we keep our highway entrances safer and prevent further harm to people and property.
At one point during the late-night disturbance on Broadway, members of the large contingent of police who responded to the protest fired tear gas, flash-bang grenades and nonlethal projectiles at the crowd. Here's a tweet from San Francisco Chronicle photographer Carlos Avila Gonzalez, who said he was hit by one of the projectiles:
Oakland police say they did not fire the projectiles and are investigating who among the other departments that were on the street last night is responsible.
Previous update and summary (midnight Monday): More than 1,000 people demonstrated in Oakland after a grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing teenager Michael Brown.
"There's a good turnout and show of solidarity for Michael Brown. But as usual, you have some people who aren't out here for Michael Brown – they're out here [for] destruction, and they've done some stuff along the way that wasn't necessary," said Desley Brooks, Oakland City Council member.
Protesters closed Interstate 580 for several hours before returning to downtown Oakland.
"I've been a part of a lot of protests, and taking over a highway is pretty remarkable – a bit scary, but remarkable nonetheless," said West Oakland resident Bre Arder.
Police made several arrests throughout the night.
KQED News will begin updates again Tuesday morning.
Update, 11 p.m.: Police have blocked about 400 protesters on Broadway, between Seventh and Eighth, reports KQED's Andrew Stelzer. The Chronicle's Jill Tucker reports that police have issued a dispersal order and are preparing to push protesters back.
Update, 10:30 p.m.: Police have cleared I-580 as protesters begin to disperse. About 100 police are standing on Grand, blocking access to MacArthur. A group of demonstrators are still marching toward Broadway, reports KQED's Don Clyde.
Update, 10 p.m.: Several hundred protesters have swarmed the I-580 onramp at MacArthur and Van Buren, blocking all traffic. Police have made several arrests as they attempt to clear traffic, reports KQED's Adam Grossberg.
Update, 9:45 p.m.: Protesters regrouped and are now blocking the eastbound traffic at Van Buren Avenue.
Update, 9:30 p.m.: Eastbound traffic is now open and slowly starting to move in the farthest left westbound lane.
"I've been a part of a lot of protests, and taking over a highway is pretty remarkable – a bit scary, but remarkable nonetheless," said Bre Adler, a West Oakland resident, while watching protesters march onto I-580.
Update, 9:10 p.m.: Police have arrived, blocking protesters who were scaling a barrier between the westbound and eastbound lanes of Interstate 580.
Most of the protesters have left the onramp, but about 100 people continue to challenge the line of police. The California Highway Patrol says that multiple people have been detained.
Update, 8:55 p.m.: More news from the freeway standoff, via Don Clyde. Protesters were briefly successful at blocking both westbound and eastbound traffic.
Update, 8:45 p.m.: Marchers succeeded in gaining access to one of Oakland's freeways, getting onto westbound Interstate 580 near the Grand and Lakeshore exits.
What's resulted is a standoff, with California Highway Patrol units having effectively shut down the westbound lanes of the freeway. At least 100 protesters are on the highway chanting, "Hands up! Don't shoot."
KQED's Don Clyde, who followed the marchers as they scrambled onto the highway, says more police reinforcements have arrived. It could be that a mass arrest is imminent.
Update, 8:20 p.m.: The Oakland protesters are making a concerted effort to get onto Interstate 580. After being blocked from accessing the freeway at MacArthur and Grand, the crowd streamed east on Lakeshore Boulevard toward an eastbound entrance. They were met there by more police, who apparently have blocked them from going further, KQED's Don Clyde says.
Update, 8:10 p.m.: KQED's Don Clyde reports that "a sizable reinforcement" of Oakland police has arrived to block the Ferguson protest march from moving either up nearby ramps to Interstate 580 or into the Grand-Lake commercial district.
Clyde said as marchers neared Grand Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard, several police vans pulled up and officers in riot gear deployed to block the protesters' advance.
Marchers have started chanting, "Whose freeway? Our freeway!"
Update, 8 p.m.: All reports -- both those from KQED folks on the street and from social media -- suggest the protest crowd in Oakland has grown to well over 500. It's not clear where the march is going, but the march has been moving east along Grand Avenue toward the Grand-Lake District, one of the city's main commercial neighborhoods.
Some vandalism is apparent along the route of the protest, with tweets showing a garbage can set afire near Lake Merritt, and broken windows in two downtown banks. Windows at the Oakland Tribune were spray-painted with the slogan, "F___ the police."
Still no reports of arrests or more serious violence, though.
Below: A social media roundup of Oakland protest news, followed by our earlier updates:
Update, 7:40 p.m.: Another moment of tension, passed on by KQED's Don Clyde: A van apparently full of Oakland police officers encountered marchers at 17th and Webster streets, toward the north end of downtown. When officers appeared to make a move to get out of the van, some protesters began pounding on the van, prompting the driver to leave the scene without the officers deploying.
The march is now near Grand Avenue and Webster Street, just west of Lake Merritt.
Update, 7:30 p.m.: And now the Ferguson protesters are on the move again. KQED's Don Clyde says the crowd is moving slowly north on Broadway -- into the Uptown district and toward the Fox and Paramount theaters.
Clyde says the crowd may have grown to about 500 now. Many are chanting, "Shut it down!" and "Shut it down for Michael Brown!"
Vivian Ho, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter out on Broadway, tweets:
Update, 7:15 p.m. The situation in Oakland has gotten tense as some Ferguson protesters have become more confrontational with police officers near Oakland Police Department headquarters. One group of protesters attempted to march onto Interstate 880, only to be turned back by police guarding two ramps between Broadway and Jackson Street.
The main focus of the protest appears to have moved back to 14th Street and Broadway, outside City Hall. A crowd of about 300 people has gathered in the intersection there.
Update, 6:50 p.m.: Marchers have headed down Broadway toward the Oakland Police Department headquarters at Seventh Street and Broadway. The crowd appears to have grown to about 200 people.
Photographer Mark Andrew Boyer, covering the protest for KQED, says, "There's definitely been a lot of outrage" over the grand jury decision not to bring charges against the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. "But there's a real sense that the decision that came down was pretty much inevitable."
Marchers chanted, "Hands up! Don't shoot!" and "Ferguson, we've got your back."
Update, 6:25 p.m.: No charges against Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson.
In Oakland, about 100 protesters were marching in the neighborhood near City Hall.
Update, 6:20 p.m.: St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch is reading a statement recounting the Michael Brown shooting and its aftermath. No word yet on grand jury's decision.
McCulloch says 24-hour news cycle has made the investigation of the Brown shooting more difficult. He also says the probe was complicated by numerous witnesses who offered differing accounts of the killing.
In Oakland, meanwhile, several dozen protesters were lying down in the intersection of 14th and Broadway. They then began to march down Broadway toward Oakland police headquarters, a frequent destination of past protests during the Oscar Grant/Occupy Oakland years.
Original post: As Missouri officials prepare to announce a grand jury decision in the August police shooting of teenager Michael Brown, a crowd of media, activists, curious citizens -- and law enforcement -- has converged on downtown Oakland.
The grand jury has been considering whether to bring homicide charges against Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Brown on Aug. 9.
Some Oakland merchants, mindful of a history of protests that have involved property damage downtown, have boarded up windows in anticipation of the grand jury decision.
To be sure, the preparations and anticipation are nothing like that in the Ferguson area.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency last week, and National Guard troops on Monday took up positions around police and fire stations, a county prosecutor's office and key infrastructure. Hundreds of people gathered in the town Monday night in advance of the grand jury announcement.
Wilson shot and killed Brown on Aug. 9. Questions about the circumstances surrounding the shooting in the St. Louis suburb led to weeks of protests and clashes with police.