Oakland mayor calls vandalizing protestors ‘cowardly’

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said a small group of “cowardly people” left significant damage in the city’s downtown during a protest Friday night that resulted in more than a dozen arrests.

During a news conference at City Hall this morning with police Chief Sean Whent, Schaaf condemned the group as for its behavior:

“A very small group of people with rocks in their pockets and malice in their hearts disturbed what was otherwise a very positive day in Oakland.”

While city officials were able to protect people during the protest, they did not do a good job protecting property, Schaaf said.

At about 6:30 p.m., a group of about 300 to 400 people gathered at Frank Ogawa Plaza, police said. They marched toward the Oakland police administration building at Seventh Street and Broadway then went to Chinatown, where it “became ugly,” Whent said.

The vandals broke windows, wrote graffiti, started small fires and failed to disperse, police said.

The large group that “constantly changed direction” continued demonstrating into the night to Broadway Auto Row at car dealerships, he said.

At Premier Hyundai of Oakland, protesters vandalized 62 cars, marking some with graffiti, sales manager Luis Pallais said.

A new Hyundai Elantra 2015 burned to the ground during the protest, Pallais said.

Pallais estimated the damage to the cars at more than a half-million dollars.

At least a dozen arrests were made and multiple citations were issued, police said. There were at least 30 businesses that sustained damage in the city’s Civic Center and Auto Row on Friday night, according to Schaaf:

“We had a small group of cowards who used the size of the crowds and darkness to commit acts of considerable vandalism.”

The group is changing their tactics and approach that police are working to keep up with, according to Schaaf.

A few challenges the city faced with the Friday night protest included the fog, which prevented a helicopter crew from flying over to help in crowd control, and staffing levels in surrounding cities made for an insufficient amount of mutual aid that was needed, Schaaf said.

Public works crews were immediately sent to the protest area to secure buildings, provide boards, clean up broken glass and paint over graffiti, she said.

Business assistance staff was also helping business owners recover Friday night and will continue to do so throughout the weekend, Schaaf said.

Whent asked for businesses with video surveillance of the destruction from Friday night to send their footage to police to aid in their investigation:

“We are continuing to review video footage and other evidence so that we can continue to bring additional vandals to justice.”