Tense Night As Thousands Take To The Streets In Oakland, Vandalize Businesses, Block Highways

KCBS Radio Overnight News
May 29, 2020 - 6:22 pm
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Updated 3:03 p.m.

Protesters upset over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis smashed windows and looted several businesses in downtown Oakland, while another demonstration blocked traffic along Highway 101 in San Jose on Friday afternoon.

In a statement Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said: "I want to thank all those who helped protect human life last night and today - from community members who exercised their right to protest peacefully and encouraged others to do the same, to the law enforcement officers who faced what were, at times, challenging conditions. In California and across the country, there are indications that violent actors may be attempting to use these protests for their own agendas. We are closely monitoring organizing by violent extremist organizations ahead of tonight."

A group that started at around 300 people quickly grew to a diverse crowd of well over 1,000 protesters as the event started late Friday, marching down Broadway in the direction of Oakland Police Department headquarters. 

Oakland Police declared it "an Unlawful Assembly," announcing multiple officers were injured when projectiles were thrown. People were asked to leave the area and officers began to fire tear gas in an effort to facilitiate their exit.

Eighteen people were arrested by Oakland Police. Outside agencies arrested four people.

The department has announced 60 looters were detained. In all, six Oakland Police officers were injured and seven officers from outside agencies were injured during the demonstrations. One person was cited, and one vehicle was towed.

"We cannot tolerate vandalism or violence in our city," Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement posted to Twitter. "Black-owned businesses downtown, businesses in our Chinatown were vandalized last night. Fires were set. Further compromising the health of our already scared and vulnerable populations. This is not who we are. We must fight the American travesty of racism, but we must do it in a way that works and does not destroy or harm our own community."

Oakland Interim Police Chief Susan Manheimer called on demonstrators to respect the memory of Floyd and to be respectful of downtown businesses, which have been hit hard in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The crowd remained hostile and angry, throwing bottles at the police during the demonstration.

Other groups sat in peaceful protest.

Many businesses have reportedly suffered losses, as dozens of people looted the Walgreens location on Broadway and 14th St. and set a small fire inside the store.

Vandalism at a business in downtown Oakland.
Doug Sovern/KCBS Radio

Windows are smashed at Starbucks and Peet's Coffee locations, along with Oakland City Hall and others. Images of a vandalized Honda dealership were also circulating on social media. KCBS Radio's Doug Sovern tweeted it was the "worst I’ve seen from a protest in a while."

Highways were not immune to the carnage in Oakland, either.

KCBS Radio's Ted Ramey reported seeing protesters on top of vehicles as they made their way onto northbound and southbound I-880, however, those on the freeway quickly moved off the road.

Protesters go toe-to-toe with officers in Oakland.
Doug Sovern/KCBS Radio

Earlier Friday, a large group in San Jose blocked all lanes on southbound Highway 101 in San Jose, moving on to a tense standoff at City Hall after leaving the freeway.

Demonstrators gathered on Highway 101 at the Alum Rock Ave./Santa Clara St. exit for roughly an hour. The California Highway Patrol stopped northbound traffic during that, diverting those vehicles to I-280/680.

An overhead view of a protest on Highway 101 in San Jose, stopping traffic in both directions.
Courtesy KPIX 5

The group then moved down Santa Clara St., engaging with San Jose Police in a dramatic scene.

Officers in riot gear advanced down the street on foot and in a line of motorcycles, firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd as projectiles were thrown at police from a distance.

A dumpster on fire in downtown San Jose during a protest over the death of George Floyd.
Margie Shafer/KCBS Radio

Trash cans were lit on fire, newspaper stands were dragged into the street, fire extinguishers were set off and an abandoned SUV was left with broken windows.

At one point, police moved in as a small group of people was trying to set up a vehicle as a barrier.

Some at the demonstration knelt in a symbolic line in front of officers.

KCBS Radio's Margie Shafer was on the scene, saying some of the protesters have left derogatory, anti-police graffiti in front of City Hall.

One San Jose Police officer has been hurt, according to San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

It's estimated up to 300 people were outside of City Hall at one point.

Some protesters were taken into custody. It’s not clear how many arrests have been made.

"Anger and peaceful protest will always be appropriate responses to injustice; violence will never be," Liccardo tweeted Friday evening. "San Jose is united in outrage over the atrocious crime committed in Minneapolis and in sadness over George Floyd's horrible death."

A line of protesters face a line of San Jose Police officers during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd.
Keith Menconi/KCBS Radio

The protesters are condemning the death of the 46-year-old Floyd, who died Monday as officers arrested him outside a convenience store after a report of a counterfeit bill being passed. The officer who pressed his knee to Floyd's neck was arrested Friday morning.

He's been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

"We understand people's frustrations with what's going on and we want people to exercise their first amendment rights, however, to do that safely and peacefully," Sgt. Lowe said. "I know tensions are very high on both sides, law enforcement and the folks out there protesting. (We) just need to be able to show that restraint and keep some sort of order."

Protesters upset over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis blocked traffic Friday afternoon on southbound Highway 101 in San Jose, moving on to City Hall after dispersing from the freeway.
Margie Shafer/KCBS Radio

Similar demonstrations were taking place around the country simultaneously in cities like Atlanta, Las Vegas, New York and in front of the White House in Washington, D.C.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.