Cities clean up after weekend of violent protests

Shattered window glass litters the sidewalk outside the 2650 Broadway Target store in Oakland on Saturday, following a night of unruly protests that left dozens of businesses damaged. (Photo by Janis Mara)

Broken glass, boarded-up windows and spray-painted graffiti dominated Broadway in downtown Oakland in the wake of weekend protests and riots that affected several Bay Area communities.

Thousands gathered in Oakland and across the country on Friday night to protest the death last Monday of George Floyd when he was in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Bay Area protests that began peacefully Thursday degenerated over the weekend, with dozens of arrests, looting and vandalism reported in cities that included San Leandro, Hayward and Walnut Creek. 

Local police agencies, residents and merchants decried the violence.

“I am all for peaceful protesting, but don’t come to our city and do damage,” said Phillip Johnson, who was born and raised in Oakland. Johnson was standing Saturday morning outside a Target store that opened at 2650 Broadway in October.

“We will not let out-of-town individuals undermine this legitimate protest and destroy our local economy.”

Barbara Leslie, Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce

Every window in the store was smashed and store display shelves visible from the street were empty.

Johnson believes agitators from outside Oakland were responsible for the violence and looting, a view echoed by several others standing outside the store.

Oakland business leaders echoed that sentiment and a Chamber of Commerce representative said Saturday that “a small band of well-mobilized vandals” had once again targeted the city’s merchants and most vulnerable people.

“We will not let out-of-town individuals undermine this legitimate protest and destroy our local economy,” said Barbara Leslie, President and CEO of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

“We stand wholeheartedly with those who are rightfully outraged by the senseless loss of life in Minneapolis and those protesting the economic pain being felt across our region at this time,” Leslie said.

The city was again the target of those wanting to damage downtown businesses, she said.

A Federal Protective Services officer was shot and killed at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building Friday night, according to the FBI.

Violence hits the suburbs

In Walnut Creek on Sunday, authorities declared a 6:30 p.m. curfew following looting at two major stores in that city.

Social media posts showed looters at both the Macy’s store in the Broadway Plaza shopping center downtown and at the Target store on Main Street near Ygnacio Valley Road. There were reports of a woman being shot in the arm in the downtown area, as well.

Pleasant Hill officials warned of protest-related police activity in that city’s downtown area west of the Interstate 680/Monument Boulevard interchange.

BART closed several of its stations Sunday night — including Walnut Creek, Bayfair in San Leandro, Civic Center in San Francisco, and downtown Oakland — in the face of either current or expected protests, and the threat of violence. San Francisco protesters faced an 8:30 p.m. curfew Sunday.

In Hayward, vandals targeted stores at Southland Mall. San Leandro police also reported protest-related activity at several retail shopping centers in that city, including Bayfair Center, Marina Square and Walmart.

Oakland digs out

Oakland was a hotbed of violence throughout the weekend.

Police on Monday morning reported that about 60 people were arrested during Sunday’s demonstrations, mostly for crimes including shooting at officers, vandalism, looting and illegal possession of firearms.

The burned remains of an electronic sign are a reminder of a night of protests and vandalism in downtown Oakland. (Photo by Janis Mara)

Lootings and break-ins were was reported around the city, which also had multiple reports of sideshow activity that led to an arrest of one person and towing of a vehicle, police said. One Oakland police officer suffered injuries not considered life-threatening during the demonstrations and was taken to a hospital.

On Saturday, following the first night of violent demonstrations, the Federal Building was eerily silent, cordoned off by yellow caution tape and deserted except for two workers sweeping up broken glass outside and two officers keeping watch.

Outside locally owned Firebrand Artisan Breads at 2343 Broadway, customers stood six feet apart in line wearing masks, but most other businesses were closed, many boarded up, including the popular Luka’s Taproom at 2221 Broadway.

Graffiti was scrawled across the plywood boards and building fronts. The Paramount Theater was heavily boarded up and appeared to have escaped damage.

A torched orange message sign lay on its side outside the patient ID Center at 1733 Broadway. Yellow caution tape stretched in front of shattered windows at the Walgreens at the corner of 14th Street and Broadway.

As has been the case in the past, peaceful protests took place during the day Friday. After dark, the riots and destruction began, according to those who were on hand Friday night.

City officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the extent of the damage and cleanup.

Reporter Sam Richards contributed to this story.

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