Big Oakland March Against Police Violence Ends Peacefully Just Ahead of New City Curfew

Oakland police officers on Broadway near 14th Street shortly before moving in on small group of protesters who remained on the street after city's 8 p.m. curfew took effect Monday.  (Erin Baldassari/KQED)

Update: 7 a.m. Tuesday: A crowd estimated at 15,000 marched peacefully from Oakland Technical High School to City Hall in the largest Bay Area rally against law enforcement violence and last week's killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

The demonstration was followed by a brief confrontation by several hundred protesters and officers near Oakland Police Department headquarters, with about 80 people being arrested after ignoring orders to get off the streets as the city's newly imposed curfew took effect at 8 p.m.

That curfew was matched by an order from Alameda County. More than a dozen Bay Area jurisdictions, home to more than 4 million residents, have imposed nighttime curfews in the wake of rampant property destruction that has followed a series of protests over Floyd's killing. (See full list of curfews.)

The Oakland marchers were buoyant and chanting during the 2-mile walk down Broadway to Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza. Oakland rapper Mistah F.A.B. reminded the crowd that the protests that have continued in Oakland and across the region are part of a long-term struggle to end the use of deadly force against African Americans.

Bay Area's George Floyd Protests

"Please let us not lose sight of what we fighting for," he said. "A protest without a plan and a list of demands is more like a parade. We not here parading. ... They're shooting us on camera. They're killing us, assassinating us. Those assassinations are nothing to celebrate. We're here because we're fed up. We have reached our boiling point, America."

The event was organized and led by young people of color, reminiscent of recent climate strike protests and attracted African American, Hispanic, Asian and white marchers.

“I want a future where black people can go to the store and not get killed for just walking," Emani Muhammad, 11, said as marchers gathered at the high school. She was at the march with her mother, Crystal X, of Oakland.

Donnell Farmer, 18, of Oakland, said he is tired of seeing unarmed black men killed by police and said he fears for his own safety.

“If a cop comes and he sees that I’m black, he might do something different," Farmer said. "And that’s scary.”

The event was followed by a skirmish near Oakland Police Department headquarters as the city's just-imposed 8 p.m. curfew approached.

As the main crowd departed a rally at Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza outside City Hall, a contingent of several hundred moved down Broadway to the police building. Just before 8, some members of the crowd threw at police, and officers responded with flash-bang grenades and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Interim Police Chief Susan Manheimer had warned when announcing the curfew Monday afternoon that those who chose to remain on the street faced arrest. Officers who had gathered in force made good on that promise, rushing to the scene just at 8 p.m. and arresting a handful of people who remained in the area.

A larger group retreated north to 14th Street and Broadway still remained as the curfew took effect. Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Johnna Watson estimated that officers arrested a total of about 40 people.

Other Bay Area cities also saw protests during the day and into the early evening:

  • San Francisco: Mayor London Breed spoke to a large anti-police-violence rally at City Hall. She talked about her own family's pain at the death of one of her cousins, shot and killed by San Francisco police in 2006. But Breed — who first declared a nighttime curfew in the city over the weekend — said she was out of patience with those who use the Black Lives Matter movement to wreak havoc. "For those of you who are using this movement as a way to push violence, to go after other black people, to tear us down. We will not tolerate that," she said. Later, a small crowd gathered in Civic Center Plaza in front of City Hall, though virtually all left by the time the city's curfew began at 8 p.m.
  • Santa Rosa: About 300 or so people ignored the city's 8 p.m. emergency curfew and marched to several locations in the city. There were no confrontations with police, who stood back during the march, and no property damage.
  • San Jose: A crowd of about 500 people marched to City Hall without incident. Another march is expected Tuesday.
  • Walnut Creek: A crowd police estimated at several thousand marched peacefully in the city a day after stores in its Broadway Plaza commercial area were broken into and looted. Several hundred people broke away from the main gathering and charged onto northbound Interstate 680. Police said protesters vandalized a handful of vehicles, after which officers drove the marchers off the freeway with tear gas. Several arrests were made.
  • Richmond: Police reported that "vandals and looters breached" parts of Hilltop Mall and that responding officers "controlled the scene." Several stores were reported to have suffered losses and damage.
  • Berkeley: Police spent the evening running nonstop checks on cars entering the city after a report that "hundreds of cars" might be headed for the city to attack retail centers. As of 11 p.m., there were no broadcast police reports of business being hit.
  • Solano County: Looting was reported in both Fairfield — at the Solano Mall — and in Vacaville.
  • Sacramento: A group of about 500 people led by Stevante Clark, brother of police shooting victim Stephon Clark, marched peacefully and dispersed quietly Monday night.

KQED's Matthew Green, Julie Chang, Alex Emslie, Katie Orr and Gabe Meline contributed to this report.

Original post, 6:05 p.m. Monday

Oakland and Alameda County joined the growing list of communities across the Bay Area imposing nighttime curfews that officials say are needed to curb widespread property damage they blame on opportunists attacking businesses during protests against police violence.

The two jurisdictions issued simultaneous announcements of curfews that will last from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night beginning Monday evening.

The Alameda County order, issued by Sheriff Gregory Ahern, is set to expire at 5 a.m. Friday "unless rescinded earlier due to the restoration of public order and safety." The separate Oakland order, announced by Mayor Libby Schaaf in a brief news conference, is in force "until further notice."

Ahern's order said the curfew is necessary because “conditions of disaster or of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property arose as a result of civil unrest."

The orders exempt law enforcement personnel, military, emergency responders, some government workers, people traveling to or from work and those seeking medical treatment. People experiencing homelessness are also exempt.

Separately, Contra Costa County's sheriff issued an advisory for residents to remain indoors from 8 p.m. Monday through 5 a.m. Tuesday. The notice was not an order, but the sheriff's office said that could change.

Mayor Schaaf said Oakland's ban on overnight public movements is necessary to stem the violence and property destruction the city has seen since the first major local demonstrations last Friday against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

"We have endured so much damage and pain over these last days," Schaaf said. "But we have come to the conclusion by assessing conditions and the law enforcement intelligence that we have."

"I want to be clear that this is in no way to quell what we are passionate about, and that is free speech and protest," the mayor said. "... It is our hope that this will not curtail the lifting of voices for change in Oakland and America."

Oakland's interim police chief, Susan Manheimer, acknowledged that the curfew orders themselves are seen by many as an oppressive extension of police authority.

"We are aware of the historic uses of curfew and martial law and that it is oftentimes associated with the power on display are demonstrating against because of past and current transgressions," Manheimer said.

She said police would not move immediately to arrest people on the streets at 8 p.m. — but that consequences would follow for those who don't heed the order to stay indoors.

"Obviously, the curfew is a tool to clear the streets of folks who would be lawbreakers," Manheimer said. "So we will be giving warnings as we always do with dispersal and provide safe and clear accesses for people to leave. For those who choose not to, they will be arrested."

Like Schaaf, the chief argued such measures are necessary in light of the unrest that has descended on the city each night since Friday.

Between 11 p.m. Sunday and 3 a.m. Monday, Manheimer said, "We saw more than 50 arrests — some for shootings, some for looting, and our officers have taken an incredible amount of rocks, bottles and threats."

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Local leaders across the Bay Area have blamed out-of-town opportunists for much of the damage seen across the region. Manheimer said police have determined that some of those who have smashed their way into stores in Alameda County traveled there from the San Joaquin Valley.

"Our experience is, and what we found from the countywide arrests, is that many were coming, surprisingly, from the Stockton, Merced, southern area and coming in in very organized fashion — 15, 20, 30 cars at a time, hitting different shopping malls, different areas," Manheimer said.

San Leandro appeared to be one of the hardest-hit communities in Sunday's incidents, with dozens of people recorded on video entering stores in the Bayfair Center mall and exiting with merchandise. The city's Marina Square outlet mall also suffered multiple break-ins and vandalism.

The orders were issued as a crowd of hundreds gathered at Oakland Technical High School and then began a march down Broadway toward City Hall.

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