Protestors that vandalized businesses in downtown Oakland last night in a protest over Saturday’s verdict in the George Zimmerman trial “dishonored the memory” of the boy Zimmerman killed, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said today.
Protests occurred in both Oakland and San Francisco Saturday night after a not guilty verdict was announced in Zimmerman’s trial.
Zimmerman, a 29-year-old white man, had been charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed. Zimmerman had argued self-defense in the death, which sparked national controversy.
While a protest march in San Francisco’s Mission District remained peaceful Saturday night, a march in Oakland turned destructive.
Around 70 to 100 protestors marched from Frank Ogawa Plaza through the downtown area, vandalizing multiple buildings and businesses. Members of the group allegedly spray-painted anti-police slogans, lighted garbage cans on fire and smashed several windows, police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said.
Officers in riot helmets that included BART police, the California Highway Patrol and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office responded to the protests, but no arrests were made, police said.
Quan said her hearts and prayers were with Trayvon’s loved ones and that she recognized the case had raised “powerful, incredibly difficult issues that affect us all,” including racial profiling.
“Oakland is a community that grapples with many of these issues,” Quan said. “I know many of us are living with hard emotions as we continue working toward solutions in the wake of the verdict.”
Nevertheless, Quan said the protestors had dishonored Martin’s memory by engaging in violent activities that hurt people and the city’s economy.
Protestors today are blocking streets around San Francisco’s Union Square, according to city officials. A march was scheduled to start at Powell and Market streets at 4 p.m.
Two marches are also taking place in Oakland. The first was scheduled to start at the corner of 73rd Street and International Bouelvard at 3 p.m., and a second at 14th Street and Broadway at 4 p.m., according to organizers.
An Oakland police official said no information was available on the protests this afternoon, but police are reportedly on the scene. San Francisco police have not responded to calls for information.