How to survive a ‘Black Lives Matter’ rally in Oakland
Oakland, California — A protestor holds a sign as others demonstrate during a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Oakland, Calif., Saturday, May 10, 2017.
It started as a peaceful march through downtown Oakland and turned violent when police used tear gas and pepper spray on people.
More than 2,000 protesters gathered in front of City Hall in downtown and marched toward a downtown Oakland police station chanting “Black lives matter” and “We want an end to police brutality,” CNN affiliate KGO-TV reported.
Police officers, including officers in riot gear, pepper sprayed protesters, and pepper-sprayed several others in the crowd.
“The riot cops are the ones who are making sure that the crowd does not get out of control,” one protester told the station.
Witnesses said the protesters were chanting about “black lives matter.”
The demonstrators held a news conference to denounce police brutality and say that police brutality is a “problem in the Black community,” KGO reported.
“We are here today to say that we are tired of the police, we are here because we want justice,” protester Yusef Abdullah told the affiliate.
The Oakland Police Department issued a statement condemning the riot.
According to the statement, the officers were responding to a report of people throwing rocks at officers and that officers responded by firing rubber bullets.
KGO reported that protesters began chanting “black power” as they were pepper sprayed.
One demonstrator told the channel that “it was a peaceful demonstration.”
“They were chanting ‘Black lives don’t matter’ and the police were pepper spraying people,” protester David Sisko told KGO.
“Then the crowd started to get violent.
They started to punch the officers.”
A police officer was treated for pepper spray inhalation at the scene, according to KGO, which said that the officer was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
A video posted by KGO showed several people throwing water bottles at police officers who were trying to disperse the crowd in the city.
Police responded to the scene with a tear gas canister and pepper balls, KGO said.
Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent said the use of force was “necessary” but declined to release the name of the officer who was treated.
He said the officers involved were placed on administrative leave and were under investigation.
Some protesters chanted that police had used excessive force and that the department is not racist.
At one point, a man, identified as the leader of the Black Lives Matters group, took a picture of a police officer with a sign reading “I am Black.”
Several protesters were arrested and charged with vandalism, trespassing and rioting, according the Oakland Police website.
Protesters had planned to hold a demonstration on Saturday against a new police policy that would allow police to make arrests without a warrant, and to demand that the Oakland police department stop using tear gas, pepper spray and other forms of crowd control.
Read more about Black Lives and Black protests in Oakland, CA.