Oakland protesters carried signs for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tamir Rice, but another name was everywhere: Oscar Grant, killed by BART police on New Year’s Day 2009.
The city’s troubled relationship with its own police department – OPD is in its 17th year under a federal consent decree for civil rights violations – was powerfully expressed Friday night.
Police in Oakland stayed in place for most of the evening, establishing a cordon around the downtown Oakland precinct. But by 9 p.m., protesters began throwing bottles and fireworks, and police responded with tear gas, fired in high arcs over the crowd and pushing them back several blocks.
The long history of protest action here meant that protesters urged each other to walk while fleeing to avoid a stampede, and many carried jugs of milk to pour into eyes burning from the gas.
Several storefront windows were broken, small fires set throughout downtown, and a bank was in flames by 11 o’clock.
As midnight approached, Oakland’s central Broadway corridor was still packed with protesters, but shop owners had begun venturing into the streets to pull aside improvised barricades left behind by protesters.