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1/7/09 11:27 pm

Missive from downtown Oakland

Well, I’m okay, after all the protests that turned into scattered rioting within a 10-block radius of my apartment.

Here are some pictures of what happened tonight; people protested and rioted in response to a BART police officer killing a 22-year-old BART rider in the early morning hours of January 1st, a week ago.

My recap based on the aerial footage and reporting that was all over local TV tonight: The protest was relatively peaceful when it moved from Fruitvale BART to Lake Merritt BART (the next stop down the line). Police closed then re-opened those stations as the crowds grew and shrunk. The protest got rowdier as it moved to 12th Street/Oakland City Center (the next stop, and the closest to Oakland City Hall [and incidentally my workplace at 350 Frank Ogawa Plaza]).

The protest basically became a riot around 8 or so, centering around 14th and Broadway. Then what appeared to be hundreds of cops scattered the crowd in multiple directions, rather than containing them. That was probably a tactical mistake, because groups of people smashed and burned property in Chinatown, and groups of people wandered down 14th Street (towards my neighborhood), turning over garbage cans, breaking windows at numerous business, smashing car windows (including the front and rear windshields of the car of one of my co-workers), setting cars and dumpsters on fire, overturning newspaper boxes, and so on.

I was at home watching it on TV and noticed the aerial coverage was getting closer to my place. From my bedroom window, I heard a lot of people go by, saw people and searchlights from the multiple helicopters above, and shot a little bit of low-quality video. I moved over to the fire escape on my floor, but when I heard a loud noise next door—were they attacking the neighbors’ dumpster, too?—I came back inside.

There was really no way I wanted to be out on an exposed fire escape, much less out of doors, in those conditions, because you never know what could happen. If that makes me unadventurous, so be it.

(Eric was around, and we watched the coverage instead of continuing Season Two of LOST. Well, I watched the coverage, and he went out and came back in, and then was (as usual) using my computer. We got into an argument and he left, which was probably unfortunate. I’m sure if I hadn’t been experiencing a fight-or-flight response due to the approaching mob, I would have been a little more calm about his unnecessarily tapping my iMac’s built-in webcam, as if that would help it work with Skype. He could also have defused the situation somewhat by getting the dismissive look off his face and giving the smallest modicum of acknowledgment that I wasn’t 100% unreasonable for being annoyed with him for doing that.)

So now I’m putting up my first post in over a month. Pictures from tonight—and from my highly relaxing trip to North Carolina to visit my family just before Christmas—will follow on flickr.

Filed under I hate Oakland, Life, News, Transit on January 7, 2009 at 11:27 pm
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