#FergusonOakland Day 3
As demonstrators gathered in Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland Wednesday evening for the third night of protests against a grand jury’s decision to not indict Ferguson, Mo., Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the tone of the march took on a frenzied pace.
Police quickly herded the group, smaller Wednesday than in the previous two nights, through downtown Oakland streets, forcing them to constantly change locations. Some demonstrators ran as police jogged behind yelling “Move, move, move.”
Others walked with their hands up, shouting to their fellow protesters, “Don’t run” and to the police, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
Some were vandalizing businesses, smashing windows and spray-painting walls.
When the group marched through West Oakland, some demonstrators smashed through a window at the Grand ARCO ampm gas station, enraging some residents.
“What’s that going to change?” said West Oakland resident Raymond Lindsey. “It’s going to make it worse. My mother comes to this store, my sister comes here. These people probably don’t even live here.”
Although many of the protesters said they were from Oakland, some said they had come in from Davis or Palo Alto to join in the melee. Davis resident Sabrina Clark, 18, said nothing was happening in her town and she wanted to join in on the historic moment.
“My father is 80 years old, and he marched with (Martin Luther King Jr.) in Detroit,” Clark said. “Right here, we’re living in history right now. I wanted to be part of that.”
Oakland resident Ariyonna Thomas, 21, likened Brown to Oscar Grant, an Oakland man shot by police on New Year’s Day in 2009.
“It wasn’t right,” Thomas said of Grant’s death. “They expect us to look the other way?”
As the protesters headed from West Oakland to downtown, police corralled the group, separating them from each other and thinning their ranks.
For several hours, the group tried to maintain form while attempting to reconvene at Frank Ogawa Plaza. The police were not far behind and formed lines across the street to block them in.
At one point, the protesters and police got into a verbal confrontation. An officer raised his baton against the protester and the protesters swarmed, shouting obscenities into officers’ faces as they looked another way.
Eventually, the officer put his baton down and the protesters dispersed. As the protesters moved from the confrontation and back into the street, multiple officers arrested one protester, and then another, tackling them to the ground.
Around 11 p.m., when only two to three dozen protesters remained, the police blocked the group in on both sides and only let people leave one or two at a time.
Thirty-five people had been arrested for a variety of crimes linked to the protests as of 2 a.m. on Thursday morning, according to Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson.
Police have arrested over 150 people within the past three nights of protests on suspicion of charges including looting, vandalism, assault, failure to disperse, obstruction and obstructing a highway.
One Oakland woman, Bianca, who declined to give her last name because she said she is an active participant in protests, was shouting numbers of free legal aid services to people as they were getting arrested.
“Especially for people who have been arrested by themselves and haven’t set up a buddy system, I try to give them a number so they don’t feel totally alone while they’re in jail,” Bianca said. “Protesting is a legal right and you don’t expect to be arrested when you’re protesting. So, when you are, you feel alone and threatened because your most basic right as a citizen is being threatened.”
Oakland resident Ty Mitchell said he was angry because he felt threatened just walking around the city on any given day.
“I shouldn’t have to feel that way,” Mitchell said, “especially not from the people who are supposed to be here to protect me.”
One man, D-3000, who declined to give his real name, said his close friend was killed at the hands of police when officers said they thought he was reaching for a gun.
“It’s not fair,” D-3000 said. “They said they thought he had a gun, so they can just get away with it. Am I supposed to just let it go?”