Clean-up efforts are under way today in downtown Oakland after a third night of demonstrations against the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting case left windows smashed and the streets littered with debris.
Police said nine people were arrested in connection with Monday’s protest, and a local businessman said one of the protesters assaulted a waiter.
Phil Tagami, CEO of the California Capital and Investment Group, was at Flora restaurant at 1900 Telegraph Ave. on Monday evening for a benefit event for local businesses after the eatery was one of several vandalized in protests over the weekend.
Afterward, Tagami returned to the Rotunda Building at 300 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, where he found broken windows and spray paint and received a call from someone who said the male waiter who had served him at Flora had just been attacked.
The waiter had been hit in the face with a hammer and was taken to the hospital, Tagami said.
“It’s frustrating and a little scary,” Tagami said this morning.
He said, “You have a peaceful protest that everyone wants to support,” but “clearly there are groups that are anarchists that promote violent behavior and destruction.”
Tagami has since talked to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who similarly “expressed a great deal of frustration,” he said.
He said he is worried because he doesn’t feel that Oakland police are supportive or concerned about local businesses.
“These incidents need to be stopped,” he said.
In the meantime, he said, business leaders have to keep building a community.
“We aren’t leaving Oakland,” he said. “Our neighbors aren’t leaving.”
Today, he said, he is focused on cleaning up, checking on the waiter’s health, and waiting to hear back from the mayor and police Chief Sean Whent on what their plan is to protect the downtown area.
In a joint statement released by city officials on Monday, Whent, Quant and city administrator Deanna Santana called for protesters to be peaceful and noted that the police chief met with owners of vandalized businesses and shared police plans for dealing with future protests.
Before Monday’s protest, police had advised that they would be arresting anyone caught vandalizing businesses or committing other crimes.
A crew of about eight volunteer workers from the Hayward Day Labor Center is helping with the downtown cleanup today, the center’s executive director Gabriel Hernandez said.
Hernandez said his crew is working alongside city personnel.
The volunteers are picking up shards of glass, scrubbing graffiti from buildings and hauling away garbage and other materials that were burned overnight.
Hernandez said the downtown community has been welcoming, and that one woman walked up and thanked the group.
Several local businesses have offered the workers free lunch.
Hernandez said that what his group is doing should be a model for residents, business owners, elected officials and others.
“These workers can show if you do right thing it can be a better city,” he said.
Monday night’s protest is the third in as many days since Saturday’s announcement that a six-woman jury had found 29-year-old Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter for the death of 17-year-old Martin.
During the protest, demonstrators briefly blocked traffic on Interstate Highway 880.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News