Thursday, January 8, 2009

Riot in Oakland

When in doubt, burn some cars:
Protesters angry over a deadly New Year’s Day shooting of a young black man by a transit police officer erupted into violence in downtown Oakland on Wednesday night while investigators struggled to determine what prompted the officer to fire his gun into the unarmed man’s back.
After an afternoon of peaceful demonstrations and a memorial service, protests turned chaotic after dark as a small clutch of protesters set trash cans and cars afire and busted windows on police cruisers and storefronts. Police in riot gear responded with tear gas and billy clubs and at least 14 arrests were made, according to local television reports.
Exactly what political message is sent by smashing storefront windows? What does that have to do with the transit police? And, while we're at it, is it the policy of the transit police to gun down innocent civilians? Or do the rioters suppose that this shooting would be swept under the rug unless they smashed windows and burned cars?

BTW, why do they call them "protesters"? I've seen lots of protesters -- they march around carrying signs and shouting slogans. People who smash windows are vandals, not protesters. There is a difference.

UPDATE: If you think smashing storefront windows is an ineffective response to police brutality, you are a "terrible person" -- like me! But what is the point of victimizing shop owners who surely disapproved of the shooting of Oscar Grant?
The mob smashed the windows at Creative African Braids on 14th Street, and a woman walked out of the shop holding a baby in her arms.
"This is our business," shouted Leemu Topka, the black owner of the salon she started four years ago. "This is our shop. This is what you call a protest?"
Leemu Topka, "terrible person." (H/T: Reason.)

UPDATE II: This business of making excuses for vandalism -- and denouncing me and Leemu Topka for our objections -- would inspire me to a full-on rant, if I weren't busy doing something else. Excuse me if I'm having a hard time imagining that, were it not for the mindless violence of the vandals, the shooting of Oscar Grant would be excused by Mayor Ron Dellums. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Apologists for "the riot ideology" ought to read The Future Once Happened Here by that terrible person, Fred Siegel.

UPDATE III: San Jose Mercury News:
As family and friends of Oscar Grant III pleaded for peace Thursday afternoon, broken glass was being cleaned up from the previous night's disturbances in downtown Oakland, burned cars were towed away, and some business owners — fearing a repeat of the violence — made plans for nightfall, closing early and sending employees home.
"I am begging the citizens to not use violent tactics anymore," said Grant's mother, an emotional Wanda Johnson, who appeared with about 30 of Grant's relatives and friends at a news conference called by attorney John Burris at his East Oakland office building. . . .
Police estimate at least $150,000 in damage resulted from the scattered violence that broke out late Wednesday night after an originally peaceful protest about Grant's killing moved from the Fruitvale BART station to the downtown area. Splinter groups — many not related to the original protest — fanned out, breaking store windows, setting fire to at least five cars including an Oakland police patrol car and smashing windshields of parked cars.
It is being reported (see the SF Chronicle story linked earlier) that the vandalism was instigated by people affiliated with the Revolutionary Communist Party. Which would not be remotely surprising, if you know anything about Bob Avakian and the RCP, considered vile scum even by their fellow Commies.

There are at least two amateur videos that captured the shooting of Grant. The videos are low-quality, but it appears that, immediately after Grant had been subdued and handcuffed, the offending officer stood up, unholstered his pistol and shot the kid. Utterly senseless, and some commenters at Reason have suggested perhaps the officer intended to pull his Taser and instead pulled his pistol. Which would be stupid beyond imagination, but what else can be expected in an attempt to explain the inexplicable? At any rate, here's the video:

UPDATE IV: Tom Blumer at Newsbusters makes a find: CBS5 reporter Jose Vazquez describes the "professional protesters" who incited the violence:
They wouldn't identify themselves, but those instigators wore bandanas on their faces and seemed more intent on provoking confrontations and throwing stuff at police than truly having their voices heard.
Yeah, this sounds a lot like RCP.


  1. Or they could be called "rioters."

  2. Maybe they're just genuinely angry about the cold-blooded execution of a cuffed, unarmed black man by a white police officer. I know that'd be such a weird reaction, seeing as how everything happens in a vacuum with absolutely no context or history behind it.

  3. Part of why they burn things is to attract attention. No attention and the cop goes free. It happens. Now on a broader scale, I think both sides are morally bankrupt, but which one in Gaza is the protester and which the vandal