15,000 March Peacefully In Oakland; Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets Used On Crowd As Curfew Fell

Tim Ryan
June 02, 2020 - 10:11 am
15,000 march peacefully in Oakland; tear gas, rubber bullets used as curfew falls

Tim Ryan/KCBS Radio


15,000 people came out to march peacefully in Oakland Monday, but as curfew fell police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

“My sign says, ‘if you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor’,” said 15-year-old Eliana Goldfarb, who was attending the march with her father as she has done many times before. “I have some hope, but I mean we’ve done things like this again and again.”

Protestors called for justice for George Floyd, who was killed while in police custody more than one week ago. His death has sparked an outcry across the country after video emerged that showed a now former Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, while Floyd was restrained and laying on his chest. That officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with 3rd degree murder and manslaughter and three others who were at the scene and did not intervene have been fired. 

Activists say all officers should be charged, and are calling for police reforms nationwide.

The march was one of many peaceful demonstrations that took place around the Bay Area Monday, but as the 8 p.m. curfew approached and most of the crowd dispersed, police came out in force.

One group of several hundred protestors marched downtown at 7:30 p.m. towards a police line on Broadway and 8th St. about one block away from Oakland Police headquarters. As they approached police, officers fired tear gas canisters and percussion grenades, causing the group to flee. 

“We are marching for what is right. But most importantly we are fighting for our lives. And y’all come down here with your weapons, with your shields, tear gassing us,” said protestor Michael Houston.

Oakland police say protestors were given many warnings to disperse and some turned violent towards police. 

“15,000 of our community marched on our streets, peaceful,” said officer Johnna Watson. “Fast forward to later this evening, curfew went into effect. A group started throwing rocks and bottles at our officers. We announced multiple times, ‘unlawful assembly’. We provided an avenue for people to leave, we want you to leave.”

At 8 p.m. police declared an unlawful assembly, arresting about 40 people on various charges including assault. Many more were detained and cited for violating the curfew.

Oakland officials say peaceful protests are welcome, but damage and violence is not.

“They refused to leave. We affected an arrest,” said officer Watson. “And that’s what we’re going to be doing. We absolutely cannot have the level of violence and damage that we’ve had in our city over the last five days.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf says while she condemns damage towards the city’s small business owners, she hopes that people do not forget the message behind the protests. 

“Things are on edge, but let’s remember that they are on edge because of the killing, the state-sponsored killing of a black man. That is why our country is on edge.”