Thousands attend fiery anti-Donald Trump protest in Oakland

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Mikaela Raphael/Staff

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Update 11/10/16: This article has been updated to reflect further information from the Oakland Police Department.

OAKLAND — Police deployed tear gas and responded to widespread vandalism and fires as Berkeley protesters joined thousands in downtown Oakland who took to the streets Wednesday night, outraged over Donald Trump’s election to the presidency.

Three Oakland Police Department officers were injured, and an empty police car was set on fire after its windows were smashed and its sides were graffitied. OPD made 30 arrests and issued 11 citations for a range of crimes, including assault on an officer, vandalism, unlawful assembly, failure to disperse and possession of a firearm.

Protesters were seen breaking storefront windows, lighting fires, looting businesses and throwing Molotov cocktails, bottles, fireworks, M-80s, and rocks at officers and buildings. 

In total police and firefighters extinguished about 40 fires and reported 16 incidences of vandalism in addition to widespread graffiti and several trashcan fires, according to a Wednesday morning press release. OPD requested assistance from a dozen neighboring police agencies. Three Pleasanton Police Department vehicles were damaged.

About 300 UC Berkeley students and other community members gathered on Sproul Plaza at 6 p.m. for a planned march, initially organized by BAMN, toward the Oakland Federal Building. They headed down Telegraph Avenue to Oakland about 7 p.m., joining thousands already gathered in the streets.

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Mikaela Raphael/Staff

California should be the leader in the movement,” said BAMN organizer Tania Kappner. “I think this movement is for the basic values of the world. The movement needs to be worldwide.”

While the protests started mostly peacefully, as the night wore on, the nature of the demonstrations became increasingly chaotic. Crowd members clashed with law enforcement officials trying to disperse hordes in the downtown Oakland area.

“People that I love are being intimidated, threatened by the police and by the United States government,” said Oakland resident and UC Berkeley alumna Alison McDonald. “The United States government is a threat to the safety of the American people. Revolution now, revolution always.”

Separate crowds originating at Frank Ogawa Plaza grew from several hundred to 7,000 participants over the course of the evening, according to an OPD press release.

Beginning just after 8 p.m., protesters began throwing various objects at police, according to OPD. Soon after police declared an unlawful assembly and subsequently detonated several flashbang devices to clear crowds.

Individuals in the crowd were kindling several sizable fires near the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and 17th Street about 9:20 p.m. Car alarms and sirens could be heard throughout the night, serving as a backdrop to chants of “Fuck Donald Trump” and “No justice, no peace, no racist police” as people marched and ran through the streets.

Chantelle Lee/Staff

Chantelle Lee/Staff

“This is not as bad as it could be,” said UC Berkeley freshman Rachael Cornejo as a group of people continued to fuel a nearby fire with debris. “It’s about causing problems with the establishment, and as long as we’re not doing serious damage, it’s not a big deal.”

Protesters broke the window of a Walgreens at 14th Street and Broadway, and lit a fire inside the building. The Oakland Federal Building and the Oakland Chamber of Commerce were also graffitied and vandalized, with small fires started in each that quickly went out.

For much of the night, police lines quickly moved toward crowds running in the street in an effort to scatter them. As police advanced on 20th Street near Telegraph Avenue about 10:15 p.m., people from the crowd pulled construction barricades and gates into the street and set fires, effectively blocking the police line from continuing.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be this big, to be honest,” said Oakland resident Brisa Mercado. “We obviously don’t want (Trump) as a president, so we’re just here to show that. The fire thing is kind of unnecessary, in my opinion.”

As of about 10:30 p.m., the crowd had diminished to approximately 150, according to the OPD release. But by 11:15 p.m., crowds had gathered at a police line in front of the Fox Theater, and armored vehicles had arrived on scene.

Dozens of people, many of whom were attendees of a Mac Miller concert that had recently concluded, stood in the streets as police issued several dispersal orders. Soon after, police charged toward the crowd as people fled.

Mikaela Raphael/Staff

Mikaela Raphael/Staff

The majority of protesters had dissipated by about 11:45 p.m. Many of those who remained appeared to be spectators unaffiliated with the initial protests. Dozens of police officers remained near Fox Theater, however, and debris from the volatile night littered the streets of Oakland. 

The protests come as turbulent anti-Trump protests erupt in dozens of cities across the country, including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Earlier on Wednesday, thousands of East Bay high schoolers walked out of class and flooded the UC Berkeley campus as part of a peaceful rally in reaction to Trump’s victory.  

BAMN has planned a second protest for Thursday at 6 p.m.

Contact the news staff at [email protected].