Violence is not justice

In anticipation of the verdict in the Johannes Mehserle trial, I am posting this video PSA from Youth Uprising by request.

96 thoughts on “Violence is not justice

  1. Andy K

    Keeping my fingers crossed.

    I don’t know how others will take this, but I hope the verdict comes out on a Saturday morning or some other time when people are preoccupied.

  2. oakie

    In the last riot on this, absolutely no one who did the damage was held responsible for reparations to the community. I think they arrested a small handful, and did not charge them for the damage they did, or the cost to the city to police their “voice.”

    Of course, if it’s our policy not to prosecute those who riot, they will do it again. You can pretty much count on it. Curious, I don’t remember anyone rioting when OJ got off.

  3. Max Allstadt

    I think that OPD and the DA and the City Attorney’s office should work together to make it as expensive as possible for anybody who vandalizes anything during a protest, as well as anybody who pulls the kind of stunt like the march on to the highway a few months ago.

    A lot of the wannabe revolutionaries are young and will feel the sting of even a $1000 fine or lawsuit for property damage. Perhaps being stuck with a $10,000 judgement for smashing somebody’s car will make people think twice. a 22 year old dude could be stuck paying that until he’s 30.

    If there is another riot, I hope the City not only adopts the strategy of making it expensive for douchebags, but also that they make a point of publicizing it.

    The message should be very clear, and we should make it very widely known: downtown Oakland is a bad place to pretend to be a revolutionary, because Oakland fines and sues vandals with a vengeance.

  4. len raphael

    Max, your words remind me of your bud churchill’s remark on how a person,s politics change as they age.

    In your words about revolutionaries, seems like you’d want a two tier punishment system: max for out of towners; low for residents. or should it be high for people whose parents were middle class and above; low if family impoverished. we could base on color of clothing.

  5. Max Allstadt

    The last riot, everybody got off except for one woman who tried to stab a cop with a screwdriver, pled no contest, and got a bunch of probation.

  6. Naomi Schiff

    I believe that the best defense against rioting would be sizable numbers of unexcitable (not to say dull and boring) middle-aged people of all backgrounds wandering around the streets being calm. I volunteer to do this, and invite everyone to join me. Kind of like the control rods in a nuclear reactor. If you insert some nonreactive components you can stop the critical reaction.

  7. David

    The best defense is a vigorous defense of one’s own property, i.e., shooting anyone who trespasses in a threatening manner.

  8. Max Allstadt

    I’m with Naomi on that one.

    David, stop talking like a wannabe tough-ass.

    Shooting someone who doesn’t pose an immediate lethal threat is criminal. Talking like you’d shoot someone who doesn’t pose an immediate lethal threat is juvenile.

  9. Andy K

    If I am free I might bike around town and see if I can help calm things down. It will take a large number of calm people to calm things down though.

    What is the City planning to do about this potential for violence? They should get a message out along the lines of what Max suggests now. Loud and clear.

  10. David

    Max, knock yourself out if you think wandering around is going to somehow quell a riot.

    I’ll hang out at my house (if I’m home, depending on the court’s timing).

    And any store owner or homeowner who thinks the cops will stop anyone is a fool.

    If you care about your own property, defend it. No one else will.

    As for who’s a grown-up, in what fairy tale land with puppies and unicorns do you get anything you don’t ask for or work for or get yourself? Again, if you think the cops are going to help you out, you’re a fool.

  11. livegreen

    Does standing behind a gun make one a tough-ass? Unfortunately some kids talk about it a lot. There’s a real problem there…

    There’s two challenges this whole situation exemplifies:

    -While there might be some racism among some cops, continuously exploiting it for political reasons, or pretending/generalizing that ALL cops are racist, only adds more tension & fuel to the fire. Who suffers from that? Those same kids do when they get frustrated, lash out, and then end up in prison;

    -The nexus of responsibility, education & economics…Until we find solutions to these the dynamics we have in Oakland are not going away. Part of this is local solutions, and part of this is national. Both need to be addressed and right now they aren’t being. By anybody.

  12. len raphael

    that whole cc strategy of blaming the deficit on those greedy pigs hasn’t helped either. the ngo’s have more reasons to hate cops now that they’re directly pitted against them for funding.

  13. Ralph

    Racism is a strong word and it is possible that there is a racist officer, but I doubt that the percentage of racist officers is any higher than racist individuals in gen pop. So, we need to stop suggesting racism within the ranks. It might be better to suggest that individuals are colored by their biases.

    I am sick of these kids and there empathizers spouting off this nonsense about racism within the police department. If you want someone to listen stop calling them a racist pig. Despite professional training, I think hearing this repeatedly can color the way one perceives people. If you think from one’s language and behavior that they could be prone to violence, then one prepares for violence.

    Taking up a gun to defend my property stupid. I think there was an episode of Criminal Minds in which this happened. It did not end well for the shooter.

    Going downtown to quiet the excitable youth as the anarchist goad them to burn the city crazy but commendable.

  14. 94610BizMan

    “Taking up a gun to defend my property stupid.” Everyone is entitled to their opinion. The Supreme Court’s opinion is that Americans have the right to self defense with firearms.

    “I think there was an episode…” The link has many real examples of folks who thought otherwise where it did turn out well for the shooter:

    However, periodic firearms training and regular range time will certainly shift the odds in your favor.

    Here is the link to the California Legal Summary:

    The key excerpt:
    “A person may defend his or her home against anyone who attempts to enter in a violent manner intending violence to any person in the home. The amount of force that may be used in resisting such entry is limited to that which would appear necessary to a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances to resist the violent entry. One is not bound to retreat, even though a retreat might safely be made…

    The occupant may use a firearm when resisting the intruder’s attempt to commit a forcible and lifethreatening crime against anyone in the home provided that a reasonable person in the same or similar situation would believe that (a) the intruder intends to commit a forcible and life-threatening crime; (b) there is imminent danger of such crime being accomplished; and (c) the occupant acts under the belief that use of a firearm is necessary to save himself or herself or another from death or great bodily injury…”

    Property trespass alone is a lengthier topic so please refer to the link.

    I wish everyone, armed and unarmed, a safe 4th of July holiday.

  15. Ralph

    BizMan, I don’t disagree with the right to defend. I don’t disagree with the right to use firearms in a life threatening situation.

    The Criminal Minds episode pointed out a situation that was similar to something that happened in Baltimore many years ago when an intruder was shot in the back and the homeowner used the lifethreatening defense. It didn’t work.

    When properly trained and are fully aware of the law, I am sure people act responsibly. But not everyone is so well versed and suggesting that they be armed is somewhat crazy.

  16. len raphael

    does home defense rules apply to business’s? wouldn’t think so.

    naomi has more guts/better lungs than me, but why not get all 5 cc members out there who are ready to lay off cops.

    dellums and lindheim for extra calming effect.

  17. 94610BizMan

    “home defense rules apply to business’s”
    Actually they do and have been tested at case law in CA. The CA Penal code is very convoluted on firearms and the business language is not as easy to put in a blog post.

  18. Naomi Schiff

    I certainly don’t plan to take up arms to defend my downtown business. That would be stupid.

    I think this swagger about guns is silly. The last “riot” amounted to relatively limited property damage. I don’t think we should escalate the rhetoric, or the actions. Keep your guns under lock and key. Keep them away from young people. Keep them unloaded.

  19. len raphael

    NS, it’s partly a reaction to the images of merchants putting up Grant posters a la “SOUL BROTHER” during past urban riots and attending vigils.

    Aspiring che guevara’s see right thru that trick.

    Not that i wouldn’t put up posters too (plus seriously consider the shotgun approach), but sorry commentary on the whole situation.


  20. Naomi Schiff

    My point is that property damage is not worth lives. We need to keep our sense of proportion. Everyone needs to calm down. Threatening the use of guns is not helpful; in fact it is the opposite of helpful. I think THE WHOLE POINT of the tragedy was that the use of a gun was unnecessary, perhaps accidental, and inappropriate in the original situation. It will not help now to revert to some kind of TV-inspired wild west behavior. Here’s the thing: TV is not reality; it is fiction, and it is generally hyped up to provide an exciting entertainment. But it does not reflect the actual world that closely.

    If we are ready to break out the firearms for relatively minor vandalism, how will we respond if something really bad happens? Personal nukes? Restraint is a virtue.

  21. Max Allstadt

    The gun talk is an unnecessary tangent. And frankly, I’ve seen a
    bunch of factual errors and bad advice
    from almost everybody who mentioned guns. So enough.

    If I’m in town on the day of the verdict, I’m heading
    downtown, with a camera, and if there’s vandalism, I’m documenting it and getting pictures of faces and providing
    my photos to law enforcement. I’m also going to put
    out a positive, calming vibe in any way I can, and if people get
    hurt, I intend to help in any way I can.

    This is my city, and I intend to defend
    it by all available non-violent means.

  22. Ralph

    Aren’t there training classes that teach people how to be an observer of these type of events?

  23. Quercki

    Max, more power to you!
    I, too, hope for a peaceful outcome without damage to our city. Both the people of Oakland and the businesses of Oakland are important.

    I heard that the troublemakers were from outside of Oakland last time. They should stay in their own communities and not cause trouble here.

  24. len raphael

    number of cops and their management at the demonstrations will be crucial

    if the cops can prevent a critical mass (to extend Namoi’s metaphor) of local teenagers, a few dozen guys in black ski mask can’t create that much havoc.

    the media play over the Grant trial makes riot less likely.

    oakland teenagers lump all cops in one category and now believe that cops will shoot them on slightest pretext.

    one thing for bored angry kids to want to break windows and set fires, another to want to get shot by cops.

    without the comfort of that critical mass, this willl fizzle.

    btw, whatever happened to the Festival at the Lake last couple of years?

    Was that canned because of security concerns?

  25. 94610BizMan

    Max, I would always like to understand my factual errors and if you happen to have the time please would you please correct them. To not burden this thread, Len or V can furnish you my email address.

  26. Ralph

    Heck, I’d be pretty much interested in the factual errors. I thought the case law was fairly set. Man is sleeping in home. Intruder with gun breaks in and threatens man. Man in imminent danger. Man shoots punk. Law on man side. Man lives a long and happy life.

    Man shoots intruder in back as he is leaving house. Man not always so lucky to live a long and jailfree life.

  27. Mike Spencer

    Off-topic. I have been thinking a lot about “what ifs” in this case. As in, “What if” police had more training in controlling a situation. There is a time to kick butt but I think a ton of police work is non-verbal and then verbal. What if one of those BART cops responding had been over 35–could still be a physical bad-ass–and was just fantastic at defusing people short of violence? The attitude seemed destined for something horrific.

  28. Mike

    We get plenty of training. Speaking from experience. There are some people who will not, under any circumstances, listen to you no matter how reasonable and expert you are at defusing people. If such wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t need police.

  29. Annoyed

    Difference between swaggering street thug and David? Zero. Grow up.

    Chief Batts handled last night very well. We finally have someone in this town who understands the concept of leadership. Chief Gascon was downtown with members of the SFPD. There were cops from every jurisdiction in the region, it looked like. They were all on their best behavior and did not let the KKK, I mean, anarchists goad them into acting irresponsibly.

    What exactly do you call a bunch of white folks who come to a city that is majority nonwhite and try to burn it down? When I was young, we called them the Ku Klux Klan. Now we call them anarchists?

    It was good to see young black and brown folks in downtown Oakland trying to tell these Storm Front refugees they wanted them to leave their city. Good for the young residents of Oakland. You all did us proud trying to keep the peace. I’m sure we will see that, again, most of those arrested were from out of town.

  30. Steve Van Maren

    It’s been very frustrating, this popular narrative of the events at Fruitvale BART and people’s justification for “taking to the streets” to “let their voices be heard and their numbers seen.”

    There’s no doubt that Mehserle screwed up, was probably under-trained for the responsibility of possessing a firearm and that the other officers did not help to diffuse tensions on the platform. They might have even acted vilely. That, however, does not make Grant III a hero – he was a convicted felon, he was a father who was out partying/being party to a brawl on public transportation instead, leaving someone else to take care of his daughter. What’s most tragic about his death is that it was so avoidable.

    And now people are closing down the entire downtown economy and beyond, not to mention making the whole Town nervous? What is this going to accomplish? My wife was trying to go to the grocery store with our babyboy and protesters were accosting her trying to get her to hold up a picture of Grant III. What does this accomplish?

    How much money was spent on police services to make sure that people “letting their voices be heard” didn’t get out of hand?

    How many of those “letting their voices be heard” can claim perfect attendance at school? regularly vote? read the news regularly? seek to participate in the public policymaking process in any meaningful way at all? What were they hoping to accomplish? Thank God or whoever that our system of governance does NOT answer to angry mobs. Put down the bullhorn and get with the program.

    What would have been justice for these people? Have people who are “disappointed” in the verdict actually read the law books? What were they hoping for? A public execution of Mehserle? Some cop to act like a “bad cop” and commit violence against a protester?

    Boo to unreasonable people who aren’t willing to put in the time to bring about the improvements they want in our community. Boo to this talk of “a window is not the same as a life.” And boo to violence in any form.

    Our Oakland. Grow up or get out.

  31. Ralph

    Just once I wished the mayor would have said something to the effect, I know you are feeling pain but we need to respect the jury’s verdict; they listened to the evidence, applied the law and rendered a decision that is consistent with the facts. I know you are angry but violence and destruction is not going to bring back Oscar Grant.

  32. Navigator

    What a complete boondoggle. From clueless Ron Dellumns, to an army of police who allow looting and complete mayhem at mid Broadway just one block from their southern perimeter at 14th & Broadway.

    The Oakland Police Department decided to arrest the older civil disobedience types, while allowing the anarchists and the criminals to run amok just one block north of their southern perimeter. What was the plan? They had an army stationed south of 14th & Broadway, all the way down to police headquarters at 7th & Broadway, while pushing the hoodlums and anarchists to mid Broadway and Uptown without any police presence coming from the north. What exactly did they think was going to happen? Who ever designed this strategy needs to be fired.

    How many times does Oakland need to be embarrassed by out of town anarchists, along with some home grown criminals, who are allowed to run amok to practice their recreational mayhem while using Oscar Grant as an excuse for their criminal behavior?

    The Oakland Police Department had help from the California Highway Patrol, Hayward, San Leandro, and even San Francisco, and no one could devise a strategy to keep a couple of hundred anarchists and criminals from wrecking havoc? Dellumns and Batts should have turned those cops loose on those out of town knuckle heads. Enough is enough. These clowns need to be taught a lesson that Oakland isn’t their playground for destruction. Dellumns’ cowardly attitude sets the tone and emboldens these lawbreakers. Why even have a planned demonstration in the first place? What did they think was going to happen after dark? It’s no mystery. It happens every time like clock work.

  33. Navigator

    Why does Oakland allow this? This had NOTHING to do with Oscar Grant. This was just an opportunity for many out of town anarchists and opportunistic criminals to vandalize and loot downtown Oakland.

    Let’s face it, the media was preparing, and almost inciting a riot for the last couple of weeks. It was all about what was going to happen in Oakland. Never mind that Oscar Grant was from Hayward and was shot by a regional transit cop with no affiliation to Oakland. To the SF media it was never a “Bay Area” issue. They tried to paint this as a racial and black and white issue, therefore, “Oakland” served its purpose. Oakland went along for the ride and decided they were going to also prepare. So in the end, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. The shameful aspect of it all, is that after all that planning and preparation, Oakland still comes out looking completely incompetent.

  34. len raphael

    Nav, i thought of you when i drove thru dto this afternoon. Whatever damage seemed to have been minor or quickly repaired on Bway.

    Yes the media got what they were hoping for.

    But before you monday quarterback Batts, or blame outside agitators put yourself in Batts position where he has half the city council directly interfering with police actions plus the mayor telling everyone that the trial was bogus.

    You expect some brilliant, agressive but blameless police tactics, perfectly executed by a force that’s been told it’s bunch of greedy pigs by most of its city council, and not deserving of the same deal San Jose gave for pension concession for 12 month no layoff.

    If i’d been a young OPD cop, i’d have been sorely tempted to have a slip and fall soft tissue injury.

    I read a quote from Kaplan where she said something about 95% were good and 5% were behaving improperly.

    Was she referring to the OPD or to the demonstrators?

  35. Ralph

    I agree with Len, we could all be Monday morning quarterbacks but the CEO of the city more or less said that this was not a just verdict. Really doesn’t bode well.

    That being said, I think the idea was to give a wide berth and let the people grieve with the expectation that if people heeded the message the night would be peaceful. Furthermore, the riots of Jan 9 did not result in as much far reaching damage so the containment perimeter seemed to make sense.

    Still even with the containment, it is hard to contain and block off downtown. You would have had to wall off the whole city. I think they did well given the conditions.

  36. Livegreen

    I agree with Len, there’s no way Officerscould have busted heads and not been roundly criticized or even given Burris another reason to sue (besides people being hurt, which I don’t think was the object).

    But I also agree with Nav in so far as it would have been preferable to have a 2nd perimiter from the North, offering protection for the Uptown residential area and people who live there, the new restaurants by Grand & Broadway, and potential patrons. Both for citizens and for businesses who have made substantial investments in our community.

    It is not good to see these businesses being looted, especially as they’ve been a draw to in and out-of-towners alike. & it would have been even worse if a resident or diner had been a victim. God how the media would have loved that.

    PS. The reason for an outlet/escape route might have been to avoid violent confrontation if rioters had been squeezed with no escape.

  37. Navigator

    I still don’t understand how you allow looting within one or two blocks of your southern perimeter while completely ignoring your northern perimeter. All you’re going to do is allow the criminals access to everything north of 14th & Broadway. While it’s nice that Oakland Police Headquarters was fully protected at 7th & Broadway, it doesn’t do any good to the business owners who had their businesses trashed by these hoodlums with bandannas covering their faces. The cops needed to establish a perimeter around the troublemakers who refused to disperse. You tighten the perimeter and leave one arterial street open filled with buses headed for Santa Rita. Simple as that. Pushing the criminals to Uptown is completely ridiculous when you have so many cops at your disposal on your southern flank. Once again, lousy tactics embarrass Oakland nationally.

    In this instance, the cops had every right to bust some heads. They showed complete restrain and these idiots still acted out. They deserved a few lumps. And, Dellumns is a complete coward for not letting these hoodlums know that any acts of violence or vandalism would not be tolerated and that any one arrested would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Instead, he comes out with his usual nonsense. I’ve come to the conclusion that Dellumns is a complete fraud who has gotten by while in Congress and as Mayor by spewing his nonsensical oration.

  38. Navigator

    Len, the physical damage on Broadway will be repaired quickly. The damage caused by the pictures ingrained in the minds of skeptical Bay Area residents with anti-Oakland mindsets, will live for a very long time. Oakland can not afford this kind of negative publicity going out throughout the region and even nationally. This city is always taking one step forward and two steps back.

    Oakland has made great strides with the dinning and entertainment industry. Every time things start looking up, some knuckleheads will do something stupid to retard the entire progress. Oakland is scrutinized like no other city in the Nation because Oakland has basically no media of its own. Any negativity in Oakland will always be amplified by our neighbors across the Bay. Oakland can not afford these kinds of screw ups.

  39. len raphael

    Nav, agree with you on the pr damage. the whole country followed it this time. very costly for future development.

    instead of criticizing OPD and Batts, why not make an appt with RK or JQ and report back on what the heck they were accomplishing by interfering with the cops?

    maybe mike can respond on the opd strategy. all i know is that it looks a lot easier to do than it is in practice to respond to a fluid opponent with excellent communications, without violating the rights of non violent protesters. in my protest days a major goal was to get the cops to crack the heads of the nonviolent protestors. if you achieved that, you basically won the public relations game.

  40. Ralph

    Maybe I am being naive, but the PR damage is non existent. People in SF who don’t come to Oakland are still not going to come to Oakland.

    Our next mayor will need to be a champion for economic development but businesses will come to Oakland. We will be okay.

  41. Navigator


    My daughter attends NYU in Manhattan and called home worried about what was going on in Oakland. There were stories in the media that Oakland was being completely evacuated in preparation for full scale rioting. I’m telling you, ANYTHING that happens in Oakland is magnified ten fold because our cross Bay friends will feed it to their national affiliates. In reality, the physical damage in downtown Oakland was minimal but we will still be credited with another “riot.” It’s not good for Oakland’s image or economic progress.

  42. Navigator

    Another thing that really upsets me is that the National and local media keeps repeating the big lie that this was a reaction to the Oscar Grant verdict. They keep making this into a racial issue with Oakland resident African Americans bent on destroying their city. They want to make it a racial issue despite the fact that the majority of the protesters and troublemakers were white. The fact that out of the 83 people arrested, only 18 were from Oakland, 18 were from out of State, and 28 from various Bay Area cities, doesn’t dissuade the media from putting out this twisted and fabricated tale.

    Thank you demonstration organizers for letting the out-of-town anarchists and troublemakers know exactly where to come to raise havoc. Without your gracious invitation, the out-of towner who don’t know Oakland, would of had a hard time finding where the action was going to be held. Was there any vandalism at the Fruitvale Bart Station? I rest my case.

  43. len raphael

    Ralph, i’m w the Nav on the PR damage. Wasn’t SF but national and i would also say regional. We need to attract national retailers and light industry from outside of the area. All the great restaurant publicity gets wiped out in one evening.

    My guess is that Batts decided he didn’t have enough cops to guarantee the complete protection of the government areas of dto with zero head bashing.

    bad as it was to have the small stores and bank storefronts trashed, it would have been far worse to have city hall, fed and state buildings, courthouses, library damaged.

    if nav is correct about the role of “outside agitators”, those govt buildings were much higher value targets to them then cafes, jewelry, restaurants, and shoe stores.

    Did putting up Oscar posters seem to protect any store?

  44. Ralph

    The story your daughter heard about evacuation is laughable and hard for me to believe came from a credible news source.

    Two riots in 18 mos for one event. People will get over it.

    Yes, there were no shortage of your Seattle, DC and Berkeley agenda driven rioters. But there were also no shortage of black faces looting FL. The people arrested and the people looting are two separate groups. Further just because the arrested were not from Oakland does not mean that some were not black. That being said, since it does not appear looters were arrested and I am inclined to believe that the number of blacks arrested would not be consistent with their representation in the crowd.

    Yeah, I would have preferred this taking place in Hayward, but OG was shot on an Oakland BART platform. The rioters made this about Oakland and Police, brutality 18 mos ago. (We knew that they were coming
    back. BART’s LM bldg would have made more sense but it also sits in a residential neighborhood. It just made good sense to do whatever possible to draw the crowd away from the residences.)

    But I am not even going to get into a discussion about this because when you do the math this is not the norm and reasonable people know this.
    To achieve what you wanted Oakland would have needed to be on lockdown from JLS to MacArthur from the Lake to 980.

    Putting up OG posters or indicating that you are a black owned business had no impact. I think the bigger trigger was if you had something in your window, the store carried something the looters wanted or they just wanted to be idiots. These people tried to tear down a metal gate in front of Homey Jewelry.

  45. len raphael

    Ralph, local towns and city people already assumed that when poor people in oakland are pissed off they riot. whether it’s the raiders losing or oscar grant. so i doubt if this had much impact on them.

    last time i checked, riots were passe in american cities. so i’d think oakland occupies a special place in the memory bank of people living outside the bay area.

  46. len raphael

    for a totally differnent take on the outside agitator angle, check out this posting on OaklandLocal from what sounds like a recent Skyline white grad.

    Apart from justifying the rioting as small price to pay for fighting police oppression, his other point, which i do agree with, is that this distinction between inside and outside rioters is silly, considering most employees in dto are “outsiders”; most cops are “outsiders” ; and most of us weren’t born in oakland either.

    after two beers before dinner, i’d go even further and opine that it’s racist to say the violence and property damage must have been “incited” or “led” by outside white agitators as if our own homegrown poor kids of color couldn’t have done that on their own. kinda like me blaming the alcohol.

    -len raphael

  47. len raphael

    re the 78 arrests. Did the cops concentrate on arresting rock throwers and window breakers but ignored looters? ergo the resulting outside vs inside stats?

  48. Naomi Schiff

    Len, re: festival at the lake.

    Security concerns, neighborhood issues (like parking problems so intense that neighbors couldn’t leave home, and if they did manage to drive off, couldn’t return). But also–and by the way it has been quite a long time since the last one (I think at least 10 years?)–there were major problems with people who were hanging around the periphery, not necessarily going into the festival, and making trouble. (Echoes of this week: mostly not from Oakland, it was said.) I think it was around the same time that all the cruising was going on around the lake. So we were a magnet for young people from the whole bay area, and the venue was too small to contain it. There were some altercations between crowds and police (again, this was outside the festival, which had a modest entry fee) and the Adams Point folks finally lost patience and raised a big hue and cry because the neighbors were really bearing the brunt. I believe the festival organizers also had some money problems in the last few years. In the last couple of years I think they stopped alcohol sales at the stores around the edges, in an attempt to ratchet down unhinged behavior. A lot of people miss the festival; my kids loved it and we always went to it (on foot, though). Maybe when 12th St. is rebuilt we can end up with a better area for gatherings. We don’t have that many wide-open spaces. And at Jack London Sq. they built a still-empty building atop the old fireworks-watching lawn.

    About the comments above, I wonder if the city councilmembers had NOT shown up, you all would be complaining about their irresponsible absence. Second guessing the police tactics is beyond me; I will say that my husband and I made an effort to wander around in the area until about 7 and it seemed to me that city staff, councilpeople, police, and demonstrators were all behaving. There were definitely some folks who attended intentionally to make chaos and upheaval. I don’t think they were that successful, except in getting people to really be angry with them. No one seems to think that smashing windows is a good idea, and if there are a few self-satisfied vandals, or wannabe revolutionaries, their world is pretty small. We are never going to be able to control every single person. Given the possibilities, I guess it could have been a lot worse.

  49. len raphael

    Has it been 10 years re the Lake? yikes.

    Re. the cc members interposing themselves between the cops and the demonstrators. That’s either buttinskyism or (i hate the word) pandering to the perceived african american voters. but a good protest is lots of fun, and from the videos looks like RK and JQ were having a good time and acting like VIP’s.

  50. Naomi Schiff

    There were quite a few city staffers, at least one other city councilperson, local workers and businesspeople, and plenty of people like myself who felt that one way to help and to act responsible was to be there. I don’t feel it was “buttinsky”ing nor pandering. I think they were trying to provide some direction, some recognition of people’s upset, and attempting to not just hide out somewhere, but rather to help channel the gathering in a calm way. I’m not saying it was a complete success. But in the past people have been very critical when officeholders have not been present. Maybe there is no way they could please everyone.

  51. len raphael

    Elected city officials are not private citizens. They have much more power and control over cops than the rest of do. So their positioning themselves smack in front of the cops is very different from you or i doing that.

    It’s basically telling the line cops, you have to choose between what your commanders told you to do and what I”m telling you to do.

  52. len raphael

    from a posting tonight by don link on opd yahoo:

    “I discussed the event with Jean Quan the next day. Her account is a little different. When the ladies locked arms–and those ladies included some older women in the crowd–and told the cops that they would clear the way, there was a purpose. The street in front of them was filled with people not acting out: skate boarders, people sitting in the street playing chess, mothers with kids in strollers, a band playing music, and a lot of people attending the demonstration peacefully. Jean said that the police were moving too quickly for people to be able to clear the area. She and the other women were moving slowly and telling people to clear out.

    When the crowd got to Broadway and 14th, the police lines had moved in from 4 directions compressing the crowd in a small area. Jean called OPD Commanders to tell them that they needed to have a way for the peaceful demonstrators to leave. There was no door to leave the area at that moment. OPD did that and avoided the problem of arresting innocent people who were expressing their views about the Mehsrele verdict, and caught up in the sweep.

    I have not known Jean Quan until recently (4 or 5 years ago), but we were on the UC Berkeley campus at the same time during the late 1960s and we have witnessed and been involved in many, many demonstrations and police responses. These happened several times a week, sometimes every day at UCB and nearby. We know the dynamic of the demonstrators, and the provocateurs, and the police because we have been there many times. I was not there on Thurs. evening, but I know what could have happened. It could have been ugly (Port 04).

    The provocateurs want to create situations that will get legitimate protesters involved in violence, or better, arrested and beaten by the police, in the hope that they will be radicalized and anti-police, anti-establishment, anti-government, anti-business, anti-anything status quo. They’re good, they prey on righteous anger and channel it to criminal acts. I am not guessing about this, or relying on academic studies; I have been in this dynamic many times in the 60s and can attest to its effectiveness at ensnaring young zealots. (I wasn’t that young or zealous and not ensnared).

    From the scenario that Jean described at the Thurs. evening demonstrations, I could envision a police skirmish line compression of the crowd followed by mass arrests for not having dispersed after the unlawful assembly announcement was made. Two people who are on the OUSD Board were arrested in this modified, slowed-up sweep. They were playing chess in the street, as they had been for an hour or two. Arresting these people or others like them does not make sense for OPD, Oakland, or the people caught up in this process.

    Thursday night ended up as well as it did because of smart management of OPD by Chief Batts and because Council Members and Measure Y funded groups were there to keep the peace. 50 of them were there in bright orange vests to work and pacify the crowd. Trashing Clorox or City Hall was not going to advance the cause. Arresting a bunch of lawful protesters would not have either.
    The evening was a success.

    We were lucky Thurs. night to have the right mix of poliee, city council, and Measure Y providers to avert what could have been a major catastrophe. Homegrown violence and mayhem was minimal. Outside violence and mayhem were off the chart. Oakland citizens and government, working cooperatively, foiled both of them and reclaimed the city for its citizens.

    Don Link, PSA 2″

  53. Ralph

    you know for me the problem is some old white woman talk about the popo gang killing black and brown people. where the hell is she when annually a 100 people are killed in Oakland and not a one killed by a peace keeping officer. until this happens these people need to shut up.

  54. Ralph

    Len, my guess is the police had no intention to arrest looters. The provocateurs were mostly liking using it to get a rise out of the police. It did not work. From what I have obsevered but is not evident on that 10 minute video clip the timeline is as follows peaceful assembly, looters loot FL, provocateurs shoot fireworks into the crowd and police declare unlawful assembly. As is evident by one woman heard in the linked clip, she was not familiar with the definition of unlawful assembly; so by her definition, she was not doing anything unlawful.

    How do I pitch to Target. I pitch to them the simple economics – households and income. They are going to occupy the former Emeryville Home Expo. Place is hardly convenient but the economics work.

    Don has a number of valid points. Provocateurs were looking for a fight. I said it before and I will say it again, I believe the strategy for the most part was sound, the only problem may have been trying to disperse people. But think about it, if you have multiple exits for peaceful protestors you have multiple exits for righteous rioters….

  55. len raphael

    Ralph, Oakland politics has gotten stranger over the years. Seems like my fellow old radicals have all moved here from Berkeley, (probably because they can’t afford North Berkeley brown shingles).

    Then you get young’ns like RK who are updated versions of the old new lefties, but with gender and envoirmental politics added to the menu.

    Best I can tell, your generation of newcomers to Oakland have lost the political power struggle here before it even began.

  56. len raphael

    There is hope. Met a guy a couple of weeks ago who was a member of the Panthers when he was a teenager, then converted to Islam. Lives in Piedmont now and worships at mosque in Oakland. Says quite a few of the members are Republicans.

  57. Ralph

    and if it isn’t obvious I am a little upset. In the past few days I have read words from peaceful protesters who wanted th have the looters arrested. So on one hand she fighting about some “great injustice” and on the other she wants brown and black looters arrested fro theft. I am betting a charge of theft is worse than a charge for unlawful assembly. What happens a few years later when this black or brown kid can not get a job because of this conviction? She wins a battle but loses the war.

    I have listened as our elected leaders and adults talk about justice wasn’t served. I have read media reports which also twist the words of some elected leaders. A skittles bag of people are telling impressionable black and brown youth that justice wasn’t served. we would be better served if this bag of skittles was actually explaining the law rather than ignoring it.

    People think they they are helping, these kids eat it up and at the end of the day the kids are no better for it.

  58. Ralph

    I probably do not fit nicely into either a D or R bucket, but I am thoroughly convinced that the radicals of the 60s (60R) are still caught in their perception of reality as it existed in the 60s. And they operate from that framework without acknowledging any of the changes that have occured because of their work. I have felt this way for the last 20 years.

    For example, the 60s radical and his younger counterparts lash out against gentrification because they think it turns a town white. Maybe that happened in the 70s and 80s but thanks to the gains made by 60Rs more ethnic minorities are in a position to buy these new homes. But no one acknowledges these gains. So what happens, ethnic minorities more to the burbs and leave the cities poor.

    As to police being oppressors, we need to stop with this line and acknowledge the changes made. Oakland has black, as well as other ethnic minorities and women, on the force. For dog’s sake, the chief is black and all these white and black activitist want the kids to drink the “Pig is oppressing the darkie, he isn’t respecting you as a man, stand-up for your rights Kool-Aid.” And these kids eat it up. Yet, no one stops to think is this speech doing more harm than good. Is it in fact encouraging knuckleheaded children to do the very things that could find them in harms way?

  59. Navigator

    The Oakland Police and politicians may want to pat themselves on the back, but the tactics were horrible and needless damage was caused all over mid Broadway and Uptown.

    First of all, you put some of the cops on the sidewalks on Broadway separating the potential vandals from the businesses in the area. You restrict the demonstration to the middle of the street. If you’re going to have a southern perimeter pushing north, you better have a northern flank pushing south and containing the hoodlums. You establish a side arterial street as a point of exit for lawful protesters who obey the order to disperse. You also park buses headed for Santa Rita on that side street for those who refuse to comply. Allowing this kind of vandalism and looting one block from your southern perimeter at 14th & Broadway, is outrages. I’m willing to bet they were given the order to stand down from the meddling politicians.

    What do we do next time when the kiddies from the suburbs and out of State, decide they want to have some more fun in downtown Oakland? What do we do when sentencing occurs. Are we going to have another party to let the kids “express themselves?”

    Oakland has some pretty low standards when we consider dozens of needlessly vandalized businesses a “success.” Someone needs to be held accountable for this mass failure considering the massive police resources at hand.

  60. Otownlivin

    In this case, Police tactics were restricted by political expediency and politicians. They were only allowed to block certain intersections at certain times. The Commanders had one hand tied behind their backs. If you want to point fingers at Police Tactics, point towards city hall.

    For those that do not understand crowd control tactics, looting is often used as a ruse to lure in Police Officers to assault them or cause the Officers to strike people, causing a larger response from the crowd.

    In this case, the restraint by the Police most likely limited damage to less than the damage caused by protesters in January 2009.

    There is no perfect solution to crowd control. Crowds are an animal all to themselves. The fact that no one was seriously injured is a testament to Police Training.

  61. Mike

    Hey Navigator what police academy did YOU graduate from and how many riots have you been in? Oh that’s right – NONE!

  62. len raphael

    Mike, did the communications systems for all the different police depts involved, and the one helicopter work properly?

    was one helicopter adequate?

    when are batons to be used for prodding vs held vertically for pushing?

  63. Ralph

    Is there a way to get a messsage to Chief Batts to commend him on the job that he and his officers did? That damage was limited to buildings and no one was seriously injured is testament to how well that the carried out their duties.

  64. len raphael

    Ralph, an online petition. then print it out and attach to a real card.

    But, i’d think the best thank would be to pressure cc to hold off on layoffs to give time for opoa to get realistic. this big rush by the cc to violate Measure Y in the name of “balancing the budget” is bogus.

    this cc hasn’t truly balanced it’s budget in at least a decade.

    -len raphael

  65. Navigator


    What exactly is wrong with protecting property when people are looting and vandalizing at will one block north of the established perimeter? What’s wrong with lining some of those cops that were south of 14th & Broadway doing nothing but protecting Police Headquarters, along both sides of Broadway in order to make sure that the crowd stays on the street? What crowd control academy did these officials attend? Let’s talk to the dozens of small business owners and see how they feel.

  66. len raphael

    nav, wouldn’t your suggestion have stretched the cops in a long thin line easily pierced by a few violent protestors?

    the way NYC used to handle that was to put barricades in the street, parallel to the sidewalks and use cops on horses.

    thought we eliminated our horses about 10 years ago? cc wanted to eliminate our helicopter also.

  67. Ralph

    Not only would it have been a long thin line stretched from 14th to 27th, it would need to protect from Telegraph on the west to Harrison on the east as well as some intersecting streets. Logic would have dictacted that the BART HQ would be a place people would go but as we all know little of what happened had anything to do with Oscar Grant. I think some would have rather we be in complete lockdown Thursday night but it would have required police from all districts all night. The Chief implemented and executed on an excellent plan. They will probably do a post mortem but that does not take away from the professionalism and near flawless execution of the plan.

  68. Naomi Schiff

    It is fairly easy to leave a message for the police chief. Phone is 238-3365. Or you can write at: Office of the Chief of Police, 455 7th Street, Oakland, CA 94607.

    I agree with Ralph and Mike. They had a reasonable plan, and the most important success, to my mind, was the overall avoidance of bodily injury, whether to police, demonstrators, innocent bystanders, or troublemaking interlopers from weird revolutionary cults.

    After all, this follows a catastrophic failure of the BART police force, culminating in the unnecessary loss of a young life. It would not have been good for this to have ended up with a successful provocation of further police violence. I think the chief and the city did fine, under the circumstances. (And I speak as a downtown business owner.) I appreciate their plan to exercise restraint in the face of attempts at provocation.

    I am another one of those 60s radicals, Ralph. While some people may not have learned from their experiences, others have. Look at Don Link: I bet he didn’t expect to be a major leader of neighborhood safety groups when he was a young upstart. Similarly, I didn’t expect that I’d end up being the neighborhood median-clean-up person and civic booster. It may be incorrect to assume that everyone gets fossilized; I trust that you are open-mindedly growing and changing too. And the police force can and has learned things too.

  69. len raphael

    nav i have some completely unsubstantiated third hand opd scuttebutt:

    1. not arresting more of the looters or at least stopping them was partially a result of a decision not to antagonize the looters. the brass had received mixed signals from the politicians and tried to steer a middle course.

    if this had been RK’s off cited NYC, the politicians would have made it clear that cops were to come down hard on looting.

    2. the cops were outsmarted by anarchists to some extent. the anarchists were much more fluid and adaptive than the cops expected. ergo the damage to 24 hour fitness and a bunch of banks by fast roving bands.

    3. sf cops for reasons unknown did not bring their gas masks. like duh.

    4. in one situation the brass refused to send reinforcements to extract a group of opd swat members who were surrounded by angry protestors because it would somehow piss off the politicians. (i’m assuming they would have had to use some kind of flying wedge and there would have been bloody faces on tv and video). the swat team had to use gas to get out.

    5. similarly, a CHP unit was surrounded and OPD brass wouldn’t help them. same deal.

    6. the 80 younger cops showed up for duty and did not call in sick.

  70. len raphael

    other item: a bunch of opd could not go to dto because there was a shooting in East O and one in West O that evening.

    yes having council members on the front lines muddled/complicated the chain of command’s decisions.

  71. Ralph

    Just for clarification, I never said all 60Rs annoy me. I gave Don L. huge props.

    I am mostly annoyed by the ones who continue to fight the same fights with the same arguments without either recognizing or acknowledging the change they have made. I am not pleased about the younger activist who continue to ignore the changes.

    I have regular conversations with the ‘rents about these kids today. Rest assured, the irony is not lost on them. A buddy and I have similar conversations.

  72. Ralph


    1) Even if council did not interfere on action to take with the looters, it still would have made more sense to let the looters loot. It was my belief that had OPD responded the mob would have taken control. See also Don’s letter.

    2) I don’t know if the cops were outsmarted but the rioters were both industrious and infantile in their efforts.

    3) the 80 officers showed up because it is their job and responsibility. they are professsional men and women and to imply that they would not show up because of pending lay-offs is an insult to their professionalism. i am fairly certain that any of us who received a notice showed up did our 8 until we didn’t.

  73. Naomi Schiff

    Len you asked:
    Naomi, will a future cc be run by ex looters or by ex anarchists who move to Oakland :)

    Answer: no, not likely. Why do you ask? However, I should warn you that I’ve heard that some people do believe in redemption. Even Ronald Reagan was a unionist once.

  74. Naomi Schiff

    Yes he was. People change. You are showing your age though! I betcha Ralph is not that familiar with Mark Rudd, who moderated his views conisderably over many decades.

  75. Ralph

    it is fair to say that in my youth the only weatherman i knew by name was spencer christian; the only other weatherman I knew was in the collective and underground.

  76. Naomi Schiff

    I am proud to say I was thrown out of the one and only sds meeting I ever attended. Why? Because they were talking about “organizing the working class.” As the only member of said working class in the room, I opined that they didn’t know who or what they were talking about, and pointed out that they were well-to-do and middle-class kids who didn’t need to work. They were extremely incensed. I needed my job, and I knew that my boss Marge, who was 24, limited her subversive tendencies to a clandestine business doing officeworkers’ tall intricate hairdos in the ladies’ room on Fridays.

  77. Annoyed

    I see John Russo is saying the same thing I am about the “outsiders.” Except he isn’t calling them the KKK, but close. Is he a racist too? Just asking.

  78. len raphael

    A your kkk designation, was interesting, suppose it was racial but not racist, but technically the ideological differences between kkk and anarchist is to big too make a comparison.

    law enforcement has to have different tactics to deal with subgroups of the rioters, but unless someone knows the demographics of the rioters who were not arrested, i don’t see how we can draw any comfort from the “75% of the arrests were white kids from out of town” stat.

    -len raphael

  79. TheOaklander

    The City Council has acted improperly during the riot. Let me rephrase that, The City Council have acted improperly since they have taken their seats. I have no confidence in our City Council to fix our budget woes, and on top of that we still have amongst the highest crime rates in the country. Now that 80 Officers have been layed off, Chief Batts and his department are being suffocated some more.

  80. mel

    A quick search of online news sources makes me think this story hasn’t gotten much coverage in the Bay Area:,0,1476311.story

    About a month ago, 18-year-old honor student Zac Champommier was killed by a sheriff deputy in L.A. when, in his car, he fled a chaotic scene after trying to meet up with a guy in a shopping center and hit an non-identified undercover deputy while fleeing.

    I think it would be interesting to get a take on Bay Areans view of this incident considering all the debate over the BART shooting. Many people say we should be concerned about the killings of “Oscar Grants” because that could be us or our children. Others dismiss that sentiment and feel that anybody caught in a situation of officer shooting justifiably got what they had coming because they did something stupid or because they otherwise deserve it; and law enforcement is smart, just, rationale, and always “doing their job.” This is regardless of the age of the victim and shooter.

    There was no video to go viral in this case, and the presumably same-race nature of the victim and shooter make this probably less enticing for push-button hungry corporate media, but I’d think the gay community might be interested in looking into this. There could have been a strong perception by the sheriff that Zac and/or his “friend” were gay.

    If this does ever eventually go to trial, it would be interesting to see what the outcome is.