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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Protesters Light Fires, Loot Downtown Shops After Ferguson Verdict Announced

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 10:34 AM

click to enlarge MICHAEL BARBA
  • Michael Barba

Oakland police arrested protesters by the dozens last night after demonstrators tagged patrol cars and burned garbage bins, smashed windows of storefronts and looted the city upon hearing news that a Missouri grand jury would not indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown.

By 6 p.m., hundreds of people gathered at the Frank Ogawa Plaza (the Oscar Grant Plaza) where they awaited a decision on the controversial case. After the verdict was announced, crowds poured onto Broadway Street — and the chaos began.

“It’s intolerable, the decision not to indict Darren Wilson,” said Joey Johnson, a protest organizer from the Bay Area. “I mean we’re talking about execution. It doesn’t matter what happened in the car.”

Protesters tried, but failed to shut down Interstate 880 around 7 p.m. as they came face-to-face with a police line ready for a fight. At least one person was arrested at Seventh and Jackson streets after reportedly vandalizing a police car.

Police moved their line forward and protesters were pushed back, fleeing scuffles. 

“We tried to take the 880, but there wasn’t enough folks so we had to march back to 14th, gather more, strength up and then come here,” said Quincey Carr of Hayward, who arrived at the protest hours before schedule. “I’m going to be here from the beginning to the end.”

The number of protesters swelled through the evening, and at one point, they marched onto Interstate 580, forcing cops to close down the roadway to traffic. Police were seen arresting individuals who had hopped from the eastbound part of the freeway.  

Bottles and what looked like a road flare were hurled at cops. 

The freeway was opened again by 9:15 p.m., but the renegade protesters continued to cause trouble into the early-morning hours, lighting garbage bins on fire along Broadway Street. At least two businesses — a Smart and Final and Starbucks — were looted of coffee, alcohol, and goods of other sorts.

Issa Eismont, who operates the bar Dogwood near 17th and Broadway streets, stood out front his boarded-up business with arms crossed as protesters marched by. “After the George Zimmerman protest, we had our windows smashed for no reason,” said Eismont. “We’re not racist— we’re being preemptive. It costs less money and we’re just trying to protect ourselves.”

“We’re a small business, we don’t have a lot of money,” Eismont added. “These windows cost a lot of money to replace every time they get smashed, last time they smashed these windows. It’s bullshit.

The news media trying to cover the chaos was also targeted when protesters shattered the windows of at least one news van, and the Oakland Tribune building was spray-painted by protesters. Across the building’s windows, the words “Fuck the Police” were scribbled. 

In total, 40 people were arrested, according to the Oakland Tribune.

“It’s called fight the power and transform the people,” said Johnson. “You can’t allow people just to be reduced to a bunch of broken wretches, you have to stand up against it. People from all different walks of life and perspectives and understanding, they’ve got to come out and say this is intolerable. It’s a very diverse mix of folks out here tonight.”

As protesters continued to light fires and trash downtown, cops responded with rubber bullets and gas canisters.

“It moved me deeply,” said Johnson, who spent time in Ferguson following Brown’s shooting. “You see so much degradation of black people in this society. To be there together, people throwing back the tear gas canisters, people being hit with rubber bullets and not backing down.”

Wilson shot and killed Brown, an unarmed black teen, in Ferguson, Mo., sparking protests in communities across the nation. The feds and Ferguson police conducted internal investigations before a grand jury reached a conclusion last night that Wilson had not committed a crime when he gunned down Brown.

Check out our slideshow of last night's protests. 

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