oakland = panther heartland, don’t mess with them

Protesters march in Oakland; three arrested in San Francisco
Jenna Lyons, Steve Rubenstein, SF Gate, Jul 15 2016

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Protesters took to the streets of downtown Oakland Friday afternoon to demand justice for Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana, two black men shot to death by police. About 50 Black Lives Matter protesters scrambled briefly onto a downtown Oakland freeway on Friday evening but a rapid response by police and Highway Patrol officers forced them to retreat before traffic could back up. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, three people were arrested after violence broke out among a group of a similar size during an unrelated demonstration in the Mission District, police said. The San Francisco protesters were arrested on suspicion of battery and resisting arrest, said a San Francisco police spokesman. The protesters allegedly assaulted a camera crew around 9:30 pm after asking the crew to stop taking video of them, authorities said. The video crew suffered non-life threatening injuries. The reason for the protest was not immediately known, but the demonstration started around 7 pm by Valencia Street near Mission Police Station. When officers moved in to separate the protesters from the video crew, most of the protesters fled. The 30 to 40 who remained threw garbage in the street then lit it on fire, police said. Officers put out the fire, which caused smoke to billow in the area. No officers were injured, authorities said.

The Oakland group, demonstrating against recent police killings in Louisiana and Minnesota, walked onto the westbound lanes of Interstate 980 around 6:15 pm but left the freeway after only a minute or two, when officers arrived. The protesters then stood in front of the freeway on ramp at 17th and Brush streets, blocking access to the freeway while traffic on it continued to flow. A Highway Patrol officer struck a male protester in the leg with a baton while the demonstrators were leaving the freeway, but he did not appear to be injured. The crowd began shouting in anger. For more than four hours, the small but determined band of protesters wandered through downtown Oakland from one freeway on-ramp and off-ramp to another, seeking to gain access and shut down traffic. But officers stayed ahead of the group and were able to position themselves to prevent the protesters from entering the freeway. The route ranged from Lake Merritt to Jack London Square before it finally wound down about 9:30. Earlier in the evening, the group attempted to block the same stretch of Interstate 880 that a larger group of protesters had walked onto and blocked for several hours on Jul 7. But about 30 police and Highway Patrol officers were standing by to prevent that. Throughout the demonstration, the small group chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “No justice, no peace, no racist police” while officers looked on and passing motorists honked in support. Pamela Sawyer, 54, of Oakland was wearing a shirt that said “Danger — Educated Black Woman.” She said:

We’re fed up. Something has to happen. This hurts my heart. Those were somebody’s kids.

Gene Wade, 46, of Oakland, said:

In this day and age, that we have to say something as simple as ‘black lives matter’ is a shame.

Courtney Stephens, 26, of Richmond, told the crowd:

You shouldn’t have to be scared when you see the police.

Oakland City Administrator Sabrina Landreth warned that traffic could be disrupted and that motorists should call 511 for road and transit information.

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