Earlier this week, I felt very concerned about the Oscar Grant protest that was to take place last night. Though I knew the organizers meant well and would attempt to keep the peace, a smaller faction of protesters was distributing this flyer, featuring an image of a brick breaking through a window.
I got so worried that I emailed the flyer to Council Members Nadel and Kaplan, as well as the Mayor’s office. I would have emailed it directly to the Oakland Police Department, but, of course, there’ s no email address to be found on their website.
I received responses from all three offices almost immediately. Nancy Nadel promised to forward it to OPD. Rebecca Kaplan forwarded me a message from the protest organizers that explained how they were training hundreds of volunteers to provide security for the protest. The Mayor’s office responded, promising that they were working closely with OPD and the protest organizers to ensure that there would not be a repeat of the destruction that happened last week.
So I started to think – maybe it’s going to be different. Maybe OPD learned from their mistakes and would be able to stop destruction before it started or at least before it became widespread. I left my office at 6pm and saw police everywhere, and not just randomly walking around. They clearly were in a pre-planned formation, blocking off certain streets.
I walked over to Radio and felt pretty safe, though I did keep watching the clock, still having some apprehension that when the planned protest ended at 7:00, chaos would follow. And unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. A small fringe group refused to leave the 14th and Broadway intersection and moved into City Center, where they smashed many windows with all sorts of objects.
I heard about this happening and sat tight at Radio until it had calmed down enough that I felt safe to walk to the bus stop. I actually didn’t realize how bad it had been until I turned on the news when I got home and saw the widespread destruction.
With some help, today I updated the list of businesses that were vandalized on January 7th, adding the businesses that were hit last night. It’s a bit overwhelming to see just how extensive the list is and how geographically widespread the businesses are.
I hope you will join the effort to support these businesses. You can visit them anytime, or you can join the group on Yelp that is organizing an outing tomorrow (Friday night). Also, Oakland merchants are joining together this Saturday, the 17th, to support businesses on 17th Street. The street will be closed to car traffic and it sounds like it will be a fun afternoon.