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Protests rage in Bay Area and Sacramento, with less tolerance of thieves and vandals

Protesters chained together June 1 block an intersection in front of the Oakland Police Department.
Protesters chained together June 1 block the intersection of Broadway and 7th Street in front of the Oakland Police Department.
(Ben Margot / Associated Press)

They marched past Mark Zuckerberg’s house in Palo Alto. They assembled in Cesar Chavez Plaza in Sacramento. Protesters by the thousands rallied in Oakland and other cities in the Bay Area and Northern California on Monday evening, with the demonstrations accompanied by fewer robberies and less property damage than the night before.

In Oakland and Walnut Creek, however, generally peaceful protests evolved into melees, with police firing tear gas at protesters in both cities, according to media reports. It was the Bay Area’s fourth night of protests amid a national uproar over a white Minnesota police officer kneeling on the neck of a black man, George Floyd, who died.

While looting and vandalism seemed to drop after Sunday night, police shot and wounded a man suspected of breaking into a Walgreens in Vallejo, according to a news release from the Vallejo Police Department. Vallejo and the Solano County District Attorney have launched a joint investigation.

In the San Francisco peninsula, protests popped up, intensifying as the day grew long. In Palo Alto, a demonstration of 150-200 people periodically closed down Highway 101 and many of the region’s major thoroughfares, including University Ave.

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Demonstrators moved by car, foot and bicycle, chanting “we can’t breathe!” and, at around 11 p.m., they moved west across the 101, from East Palo Alto, to the upscale Palo Alto neighborhood of Crescent Park.

Slowly moving through the winding streets, they passed by the house of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. Drivers leaned on their horns as young people — sitting on the tops of minivans and in the backs of pickup trucks — chanted “wake up!”

Most of the houses remained dark. A few homeowners stood on their lawns, clapping for the demonstrators. In one house, three white teenagers looked out their front window. Eventually, one opened the window and bellowed out an encouraging whoop.

The demonstrators mostly cheered, except for one young woman, who replied: “You watch us from your multimillion-dollar home. If you don’t march, you are complicit!”

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As the protest caravan wound through Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, dozens of police cars and tactical vehicles played cat and mouse with the demonstrators — trying to anticipate the crowd’s movement, then redoubling when in error.

Between 6:30 p.m. and 1 a.m., when the demonstration all but died down, the police — which included squads from East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, San Mateo County and Redwood City — prevented the demonstrators from reoccupying Highway 101.

Demonstrators were mostly peaceful. A few people ignited fireworks, and one could be seen shooting them directly at a police barricade.

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By contrast, Sacramento was much calmer. About 600 peaceful protesters held a vigil in a park during the afternoon before breaking a citywide curfew to march until about 10 p.m.

The protesters circled downtown blocks, stopping in front of buildings where National Guard troops stood with guns in hand. Earlier in the day, 500 Guard members arrived at the request of city and county officials to aid local law enforcement after a previous night of vandalism and stealing left millions of dollars of damage in the downtown core.

But leaders of Monday night’s protest were clear that no such violence would be tolerated. When one marcher jumped on top of a military Humvee parked in front of the district attorney’s office, others in the crowd quickly condemned the action and made the man get down.

As in Palo Alto, roughly half the Sacramento protesters were wearing masks, despite a pandemic that has so far killed 4,222 Californians and infected 115,000 in the state.

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At 10 p.m., organizers asked everyone to go home and come back Tuesday for a rally at the Capitol. Police made about a 50 arrests for those who refused to leave the area, but most complied. By 11 p.m., there were more law enforcement and military in the area than protesters.

In Oakland, an estimated 15,000 people protested peacefully much of Monday, according to a report from the Mercury News. In Walnut Creek, police responded in force, firing tear gas and rubber bullets when a few hundred protesters walked onto Interstate 680.

Curfews were in place in Sacramento and many Bay Area cities and are expected to continue Tuesday night.


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