Police arrested about 83 people in Oakland Thursday night and this morning as officers responded to protests following the Johannes Mehserle verdict, Oakland police Chief Anthony Batts said.
Units from the Pleasanton Police Department and the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department joined in the back-up support efforts to quell violence.
The evening started off peacefully with about 800 people gathering downtown to voice their opinions, but at about 8 p.m., a small, hostile crowd began moving toward a police line that had been held for several hours, Batts said.
Pleasanton Weekly reporter Glenn Wohltmann who has been on the scene said concerns about protesters growing violent in demonstrations prompted police from throughout the area to block the protesters in and keep others from entering shortly after the verdict was announced.
Police set up a blocks-wide corridor near Broadway and 14th Street in Oakland. Closer to the protests, they were suited in full riot gear; those manning the perimeter weren't wearing body armor, but were forceful in turning onlookers -- and potential additions to the protest -- away, Wohltmann reported.
Oakland Chief Batts said that about 50 people wearing black masks, bandanas, hooded sweatshirts and backpacks threw rocks and bottles at the officers, Batts said.
He described the protesters as anarchists and said their goal was to go into crowds and cause people on both sides to overact.
At 20th Street and Broadway, officers dispersed smoke to break up the crowd, but no tear gas was used, Batts said. Police issued a dispersal order and said over a loudspeaker that the protest had been declared an unlawful assembly, Batts said.
The crowd was reduced to about 300 people by 9:30 p.m.
"A number of protesters failed to adhere to that legal mandate," Batts said at about 10:30 p.m. "We have them boxed in and are making arrests since we gave them ample time to leave."
Batts said looting and vandalism occurred, particularly in the 1700 blocks of Broadway and west Franklin Street, and near the intersection of west Grand Avenue and Broadway.
A Foot Locker at 14th Street and Broadway was broken into, vandalized and robbed, witnesses said. Nearby, protesters broke windows of a Subway sandwich shop and a Far East National Bank.
They also pushed large trash bins into the street and set them on fire, Batts said.
Still others threw M-1000 fireworks at law enforcement officers and other demonstrators, Alameda County sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson said.
Batts said he was proud of the way police responded, but he admitted to being disappointed by the minority of protesters who damaged property and attacked police and other protesters.
"To come to this city and destroy this city and to do the damage is something I frown upon," he said. "We deserve better. This city is not the wild, wild West. We will not tolerate it."
A Los Angeles jury Thursday convicted Mehserle, a former BART police officer, of involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III on New Year's Day 2009.
The jury also found true the allegation that Mehserle deliberately used his gun.
Mehserle now faces between five and 14 years in prison when he is sentenced.
After the shooting, a riot broke out in downtown Oakland. Batts said about 75 percent of the people arrested during the riot were from outside of Oakland.
He said he expected many of the people arrested Thursday night would turn out to be residents of other cities.
Mayor Ron Dellums emphasized that the response to the verdict was generally constructive despite the violence that erupted late in the protests Thursday.
He especially thanked the area's young people for expressing themselves in a "courageous" way.
"This was a positive event given the pain and agony in the Bay Area in response to this," he said.
Tony Coleman, a community organizer with Oakland Assembly and the New Years Movement for Justice for Oscar Grant, said the violence was preceded by a peaceful, productive rally.
"The speak-out was a total success, everybody got a chance to speak. We did our thing," Coleman said. The speeches were heartfelt and emotional, he said.
"It was going so good, we left at a high point, and that way folks will be more interested in maybe coming to the community meeting," Coleman said.
He said the group will hold a meeting next Thursday at the Continental Club at 1658 12th St. to discuss the next steps in light of the verdict.
Members of the Oakland General Assembly for Justice for Oscar; Community Working for Peace, Healing and Justice; and By Any Means Necessary also joined peaceful rallies downtown at about 6 p.m.
The rallies included religious leaders, family and friends of Oscar Grant, elected officials and live music. Community centers around Oakland and San Francisco accommodated youth and other residents who wanted to discuss the verdict.
"I want to thank the residents of Oakland who went out there to express themselves passionately, vocally, even angrily, but in a way that was respectful of Oscar Grant, his family and the community," Dellums said.
Mehserle now faces between five and 15 years in prison when he is sentenced.