Oakland police Chief Anthony Batts said the response to the verdict in the Johannes Mehserle trial has gone smoothly so far tonight with the exception of a few minor incidents.
About 500 to 800 people have gathered downtown to express their opinions of the verdict, he said. A staging area has been set up where individuals are taking turns speaking at a microphone.
So far no arrests have been made, and no injuries have been reported, Batts said. No streets have been closed.
“Minus one minor flare-up, this is going well,” Batts said of the protests. “Our plan is to facilitate First Amendment rights and the people giving speeches. We will continue to allow people to do what they’re doing.”
During the flare-up, a small group of protesters threw bottles and rocks at police, Batts said.
One woman in the crowd suffered a leg injury but said she was fine.
A small fire was also set outside the Oakland police station at Broadway and 7th Street, but Batts said police were able to establish a line at Broadway and 12th Street and stop the crowd from getting near the station.
“We’re giving them a wide berth,” Batts said.
He said no problems had been reported on BART either.
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums also thanked the residents of Oakland for rejecting violence as they express their frustration with the verdict.
“We want to compliment people on their passion for justice, but also on their passion for peace,” he said.
Batts said the mayor’s office facilitated community peacekeepers, who are wearing orange jackets at the protests.
Officers and deputies from the San Leandro Police Department, Hayward Police Department, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol were providing assistance in Oakland tonight, Batts said.