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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Zimmerman protests in Oakland turn violent: waiter struck in face

A wave of violence swept through Oakland, Calif., Monday night as demonstrators angry with the not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman shattered windows, lit fires and threw fireworks, bottles and rocks at police.

A waiter was struck in the head by a hammer while trying to keep the windows protected at the restaurant, Flora Restaurant and Bar, which had been smashed over the weekend during similar protests. The waiter was seen bleeding and was sent by paramedics to a hospital, according to reporters with the San Francisco Chronicle and the Bay Area News Group, which includes the Oakland Tribune and San Jose Mercury News.

“Protesters with black masks approached the window and tried to bang at it,” bartender Phillip Ricafort told the Oakland Tribune. “(The waiter) said, ‘Don’t do that!’ and the guy turned around and smacked him in the face with a hammer” or another metal object.

Garbage was lit on fire and fireworks were thrown at police officers, police said, while graffiti was scrawled across buildings, one said “REVOLT,” according to KTVU-TV, and some burned American flags. Windows were shattered at a Men’s Wearhouse, Comerica bank, and Youth Radio, according to police and media reports. A KPIX-TV reporter said vandals broke into the CBS affiliate’s television truck.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a tear-gas canister detonated during skirmishes between protesters and officers.

Oakland police said early Tuesday that officers made nine arrests; they were booked on offenses such as assault, resisting arrest, and vandalism.

The protest began at about 6 p.m., police said, when about 250 people assembled at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. The demonstration quickly deteriorated into violence. After police reported assaults, shattered windows, graffiti and small fires, police requested help from nearby police agencies after 7 p.m.

“We will continue to facilitate a nonviolent march and expression of speech for those who wish to participate peacefully,” said Officer Johnna Watson of the Oakland Police Department. “Those who are engaging in criminal activity, we will continue to arrest those persons.”

Earlier in the evening, about 7:15 p.m., about 150 people marched through downtown Oakland to an onramp to Interstate 880, blocking traffic to the freeway for about 15 minutes, officials said. As the evening wore on, the crowd, which at its largest point was about 250 people, dwindled, Watson said.

The level of damage did not equal what happened Saturday, the night of the initial verdict, which found former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. The case sparked a national debate about race and gun control and prompted large marches in a number of U.S. cities, including Los Angeles and New York City.

It was the third night of protests in Oakland following the not guilty verdict.

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