What felt like a diluted episode of déjà vu, downtown Oakland was again the backdrop of an otherwise peaceful protest — in support of Portland’s "Wall of Moms" — that turned violent when rebels chose to break windows, vandalize buildings, and set fire to the Alameda County Superior Courthouse.
Oakland and its surrounding smaller cities (Berkeley, Richmond, Emeryville) have historically been epicenters of social activism. Just last month alone, during the height of the BLM movement (which, alas, is still carrying on with vigor), hundreds of thousands marched through East Bay streets to demand racial justices, police defunding, and for those responsible for the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd to be held accountable. Saturday evening, a similar, albeit smaller scene played out again in downtown Oakland in solidarity with Portland’s “Wall of Moms”; it crescendoed into a local courthouse being set aflame and other damages being done to nearby businesses.
We continue to ask the crowd to disperse because of an unlawful assembly. Some in the crowd are throwing projectiles and pointing illegal lasers at officers. We are using signs and giving vocal commands to the crowd if the assaults continue chemicals will be deployed. pic.twitter.com/Un1Ndrs0AQ— Oakland Police Dept. (@oaklandpoliceca) July 26, 2020
As reported by KRON4, some 700 or so people marched along the streets of downtown Oakland last night. Many of whom that were present held "BLM" signs and some protected themselves with like-messaged shields, afraid that tear gas canisters and rubber bullets would be used on them.
The protest began earlier in the evening with groups meeting at 7:30 p.m. near the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza at 14th Street and Broadway in Oakland. Organizers of the display included the Bay Area's own Wall of Moms coalition, Refuse Fascism Bay Area, and Vigil for Democracy.
Much like the display in Portland: the local Wall of Moms group encouraged participants to wear bright yellow, bring sunflowers, and don appropriate face coverings — "all must wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19."
It wasn't until after 9:30 p.m. that things began to turn quasi-violent with agitators — though, it remains unclear as to whether or not said aggressors participated in the prior peaceful protests — breaking windows, spray-painting walls, and pushing orange pieces of plastic.
The violence eventually peaked when the Alameda County Superior Court House on 1225 Fallon Street caught on fire; the building was prior vandalized by large amounts of graffiti that included curse words and some slurs.
lol Oakland goes so hard. they set fire to the courthouse pic.twitter.com/cHv6YCW8FG— Brett (@Relentlessbored) July 26, 2020
"We continue to ask the crowd to disperse because of an unlawful assembly," the Oakland Police Department said in a tweet last night. "Some in the crowd are throwing projectiles and pointing illegal lasers at officers. We are using signs and giving vocal commands to the crowd if the assaults continue chemicals will be deployed."
According to SFGate, Oakland police said they made several arrests Saturday evening... but provided no further details on the matter. There, too, were no immediate reports of injuries to protesters or officers.
A bit after midnight, the large crowds began to subdue and dissipate; only small groups were present after that.
Similar-intended displays have popped up across the country as protesters faced off with U.S. agents deployed at various cities — Chicago, Portland, and soon Seattle — to guard federal courthouses after President Trump sent droves of federal agents across the country to restrain protests that have happened daily since George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis on May 25.
Image: Courtesy of Twitter via @SitaStukes