Oakland’s Zimmerman protest turns tense

Officers respond to a tense protest in Oakland by forming a line with visors on, pushing protesters away from curb.
(Evan Wagstaff / Los Angeles Times)

OAKLAND -- The first several hours of peaceful protest at Frank Ogawa Plaza near Oakland City Hall got testy at around 10 p.m., as demonstrators began shouting “Justice for Trayvon” and the police presence intensified.

Officers at 14th and Broadway faced off with demonstrators, one of whom shouted: “Look at all these Zimmerman clones!”

Protesters were seen shouting at a line of Oakland police officers. Police appeared to detain one of the demonstrators.


Interactive tweets:

Police move in on one protester #oo #trayvon — Evan Wagstaff (@EvanWagstaff) July 17, 2013

Standoff on corner of 14th and Broadway continues #oo #Trayvon — Evan Wagstaff (@EvanWagstaff) July 17, 2013

Protesters shout at line of officers #oo #trayvon — Evan Wagstaff (@EvanWagstaff) July 17, 2013

Officers respond by forming a line with visors on, pushing protesters away from curb. #oo #trayvon — Evan Wagstaff (@EvanWagstaff) July 17, 2013

Protesters gather on curb after an arrest on the other side of the street for an undetermined offense. #oo #trayvon — Evan Wagstaff (@EvanWagstaff) July 17, 2013

Banner taped to ground on 14th and Broadway inviting people to write a message re: #Trayvon — Evan Wagstaff (@EvanWagstaff) July 17, 2013

Earlier in the evening, a group of about 30 demonstrators spent several hours near City Hall, passing around a megaphone and talking about how unjust it was for a jury to acquit George Zimmerman in the shooting death of the unarmed teenager in Florida.

They urged passersby to bring their friends out to protest and exhorted them not to listen to the mainstream media’s reports that their movement was dying. They signed a large paper banner that had been duct-taped to the sidewalk and declared in big letters, “We are all Trayvon Martin.”

Kneeling on the sidewalk, marking pen in hand, Elisabeth Berger added her own message, “I am so sorry we haven’t transformed our society yet.”

The 30-year-old public health educator who lives in Oakland called her city “a very passionate town. People live here amid racial and economic conversations that have been brought out by this trial. As a white woman, the amount of total disappointment and shame at how it transpired…”

Berger’s voice trailed off. She didn’t finish the sentence. “I’m just sorry,” she said.

Nearby stores bore big posters with a line drawing of a smiling Martin, insurance against feared vandalism. On Monday night, protesters had broken windows and assaulted a restaurant server with a hammer, and police arrested nine people.

At San Francisco City Hall, a protest called by the NAACP remained quiet.


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Twitter: @EvanWagstaff | @marialaganga