Downtown Oakland is Calm Again

By Chris Cooney/Janna Bancolini (BCN)
Friday July 09, 2010 - 08:27:00 AM

OAKLAND (BCN)-- Relative calm has returned to the streets of downtown Oakland this morning as most protesters unhappy with the verdict in the Johannes Mehserle trial have abandoned the area and police and business owners continue to assess the damage inflicted by rioters Thursday night. 


Protesters defaced several storefronts along Broadway, with businesses between 12th and 20th streets sustaining smashed windows, sporadic looting, busted doorways and walls newly scrawled with graffiti. 


Banks in the area were hit hard. Local branches of California Bank and Trust and Chase bank on Thomas L. Berkley Way near 20th Street sustained smashed doorways and windows. Oakland police and Alameda County Sheriff's deputies remained at the banks on guard in riot gear at 12:30 a.m. 


A Whole Foods Market on Bay Place near Harrison Street was vandalized by rioters at around 11:15 p.m., according to witnesses and a security guard still on duty this morning. Again, windows and doorways were smashed and destroyed, but there was not heavy evidence of looting, according to the guard, and the grocery store was still scheduled to open on time at 8 a.m. 


There were no updated numbers on total arrests as of 1 a.m., police said. Patrol officers confirmed that the downtown areas were mostly deserted aside from police, and that protesters and residents appeared to have left. 


There had been about 50 arrests earlier on Thursday, when protesters refused to adhere to a dispersal order issued by the Police Department at around 9:30 p.m. 


"A number of protesters failed to adhere to that legal mandate," Police Chief Anthony Batts said at about 10:30 p.m. 


Batts said looting and vandalism occurred, particularly in the 1700 blocks of Broadway and west Franklin Street, and near the intersection of west Grand Avenue and Broadway. 


A Foot Locker at 14th Street and Broadway was broken into, vandalized and robbed, witnesses said. Nearby, protesters broke windows of a Subway sandwich shop and a Far East National Bank. 


They also pushed large trash bins into the street and set them on fire, Batts said. 


There were no outstanding fires burning at 1:30 a.m., a dispatcher with the Oakland Fire Department said. 


Batts said he was proud of the way police responded, but he admitted to being disappointed by the minority of protesters who damaged property and attacked police and other protesters. 


"To come to this city and destroy this city and to do the damage is something I frown upon," he said. "We deserve better. This city is not the wild, wild West. We will not tolerate it."