Violence after Zimmerman verdict: why Oakland?
While law enforcement authorities in Florida braced for violence following George Zimmerman's vindication, it was 2500 miles away in Oakland, California that store fronts were smashed, walls vandalized with graffiti, and small fires ignited in the streets. All in all, a fairly calm reaction.
So why Oakland?
First of all, the news of the verdict came early enough in the evening (7 PM) on the West Coast for demonstrations to be organized. Plenty of time for calls, tweets, text messages, and blog posts to mobilize the usual suspects.
The East Bay is home to organized bands of far leftists who use any excuse to bring violent demonstrations to the streets. The Occupy encampment in Oakland took place at the very same spot, Frank Ogawa Plaza, that last night's demonstrations began. Henry Lee and Vivian Ho of the San Fancisco Chronicle reported:
about 125 protesters gathered at Frank Ogawa Plaza outside City Hall before marching through downtown, starting small fires and smashing windows at the Wells Fargo Bank at 12th Street and Broadway and at several locations, including the Dogwood Bar, the Oakland Tribune and the Sears store.
A BART police car parked outside the 12th Street BART Station had its windows smashed, and protesters spray-painted "F- the police" and "Kill Pigs" on the side of the vehicle.
About 11:30 p.m., Oakland police formed a skirmish line near their headquarters at 7th Street and Broadway and came face-to-face with protesters. Argus, the police helicopter, was monitoring the crowd from above.
The crowd later moved away from the intersection and headed east on 14th Street, stopping at a McDonald's restaurant shortly after midnight to burn several flags and to spray-paint "Kill Zimmerman" and "FTP," an anti-police epithet, on the side of Alameda County's Rene C. Davidson Courthouse.
A small and peaceful demonstration also was held in San Francisco's Mission District, a rapidly gentrifying area home to the city's trendiest restaurants, bars, and clubs, where poor people coexist on the streets with very affluent young professionals, including a heavy contingent of Silicon Valley folk who seek the excitement of urban life and the neighborhood's
A special factor at work in the East Bay was the local opening Friday of a movie titled Fruitvale Station, about the shooting of young unarmed black teenager at a BART station a few years ago. The East Bay is plastered with billboards using the same art as the poster to the right, scratching that scab hard. The movie opens nationally at the end of this week. The close parallel with the Zimmerman/Martin incident, and the inflammatory nature of the earlier incident, as well as the effect of a movie dramatizing this, could easily have inflamed passions. Billboards touting the movie blanket the black neighborhoods of Oakland. Watch the trailer here.
The new movie is the product of the Weinstein Company, a reliably progressive outfit, headed by major Democrat donor Harvey Weinstein.
From the standpoint of profiting from racial animus, the timing was ideal. Weinstein must be very happy with his good fortune. Not exactly blood money, so far at least.
Update: Perhaps I should have added mention of Oakland's long history of left wing extremism. The organized bands of far leftists to which I referred have deep historical roots that extend well beyond the famous Black Panthers, all the way back to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters more than a century ago. The Dellums family of Oakland -- Ron Dellums was a longtime congressman and then mayor of Oakland -- played a leadership role, intellectually and organizationally, of a black left wing movement. The Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley attracted thousands of committed left wingers from aroudn the country to the San Francisco Bay Area, especially Berkeley and Oakland.
Thus, it is not hard to mobilize 150 or so people in Oakland, and as many or more in the Mission (BART has 2 stations there).