Oscar Grant Riots: 86 Arrested, Downtown Oakland Smashed

Categories: Law & Order
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Chris Roberts
Well, they did...
After relatively non-violent protests devolved into looting and vandalism with nightfall, police in Oakland arrested at least 86 demonstrators in the aftermath of the Johannes Mehserle-Oscar Grant trail. (The former BART officer was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter; he will be sentenced Aug. 6.)

The sun rose this morning on a glass- and detritus-strewn downtown Oakland. Perhaps the easiest synopsis of the state of the city following yesterday's verdict: Better than many thought; worse than they hoped.

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Chris Roberts
The night's disturbing events appear to be more limited and less violent than last year's rioting following Grant's death (105 were arrested last year). Police fingered "professional" anarchists for much of last night's mayhem, accusing them of mixing in with the crowd, inciting it, and attempting to provoke authorities into an overreaction.

Others, however, simply appeared intent on getting their share of looted goods. While Grant's grandfather, also named Oscar Grant, implored the crowd to not "dishonor my grandson's death by tearing up Oakland," many opportunistic looters wearing masks with the younger Grant's face on them rampaged through the streets, looting and burning.

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Chris Roberts
In addition to numerous businesses ransacked on Broadway, looters hit nearby establishments such as the Whole Foods on Bay and Harrison.

Police continue to monitor Downtown Oakland and have not yet decided whether to restrict access to swaths of the city tonight. Bay Bridge traffic and pedestrian density in Oakland indicate many workers are simply taking the day off (Kaiser employees have reportedly been sent home with pay). BART, apparently, is currently running normally.

UPDATE: Authorities have adjusted the arrest total to 78 -- with fully three-quarters of those arrested hailing from outside Oakland. Why is it that these folks were apparently happy to help Oakland burn, but not live there the rest of the time? Do they find Oakland too dangerous? Were they worried about, er, meeting the wrong sort of person there?

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Chris Roberts

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