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Reportback from Copwatcher: Andrea

The overwhelming police force summoned by Oakland and its mutual aid pacts was not able to stop property damage and looting. Despite police from Fremont, Vallejo, Berkeley, San Francisco and perhaps even hundreds of California HIghway patrol, protests lasted until after 11pm when Russel and I stopped our shift.

The protest at 14th and Broadway was shut down soon after the 8pm end time of the authorized speakout. The intersection was closed to traffic but was completely surrounded by thick lines of cops at each cross street. When the mic shut down, some people tried to march. Cops even began advancing on the crowd at one point only moments after the end of the program.

There were probably over 1000 people in attendence. Some left after the speakout but others came. What was clear was that the incredible cost of paying so many cops did not yield the desired result: I saw stores that had windows smashed and a couple were looted (jewelry store, Foot Locker, few others). Many windows broken, mostly corporate. Lots of graffiti and some small fires. So far about 50 arrests.

It strikes me that the overwhelming force was used to disrupt and prevent a march. However, the strategy of using so many cops to close streets and chase people meant that the crowd was in small clumps, each equally capable of taking a side street and doing what they wanted. It was also noted that stores that were damaged were left COMPLETELY unsecured by police even though they had hundreds at their disposal. Even a few cops in those places could have helped the small businesses they had earlier claimed to want to protect.

The Afghanistan approach, or massive military style DID NOT achieve its objective! Try winning hearts and minds next time!

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