“I’m furious that Oakland may have played right into Donald Trump’s twisted campaign strategy,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told The New York Times on Sunday. “Images of a vandalized downtown is exactly what he wants to whip up his base and to potentially justify sending in federal troops that will only incite more unrest.”
Around 700 people gathered on Saturday night to demonstrate against police brutality, proclaim solidarity with Portland protestors and resist "jackbooted thugs." One group allegedly separated from the main body of protestors and targeted the Alameda County courthouse in Oakland, breaking windows with rocks or frozen water bottles and setting the building on fire.
Antifa has set a fire in the Alameda County courthouse in Oakland, CA. pic.twitter.com/MNWrpHgJ2u— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) July 26, 2020
After an unidentified woman was injured, protestors clashed with one another.
“If you’re about Black lives, come with us. If you’re about breaking glass and confronting police and some bull****, stay with them,” the local CBS outlet reported one protestor saying.
Other demonstrators set fires elsewhere, graffitied government buildings and aimed lasers at police officers, Oakland police spokesman Officer Johnna Watson said.
We are asking agitators to stop throwing items and pointing lasers at the officers at 7th & Broadway.— Oakland Police Dept. (@oaklandpoliceca) July 26, 2020
Some within the crowd of 100s of demonstrators vandalized the police station. Breaking windows, spray painting, shooting fireworks and pointing lasers at officers and helicopters. We ask for organizers to keep the protest peaceful. #WallofMoms pic.twitter.com/SGU6Y7PULg— Oakland Police Dept. (@oaklandpoliceca) July 26, 2020
Police declared unlawful assembly around 11:30 p.m. and set up barriers, but crowds refused to disperse and demolished parts of the barrier.
Watson maintains that some protestors entertained a destructive agenda since the outset: “This was different,” she said. “This group of protesters had specific intentions to participate in one way or another — whether that’s carrying backpacks in with clearly very heavy items, and the smaller group would actually be engaged in doing the damage — there is a nexus with all of the attendees.”
Wall of Moms, a group that began amidst Portland protests and exists to protect BLM protestors from anticipated police brutality, posted on their Facebook page prior to the protest to “EXPECT SHENANIGANS."
The group issued a list of recommended equipment to take to the July 25 demonstration. Preparations for “basic brutality” include safety goggles, running shoes and snacks.
President Trump had mentioned in a press conference last week his intent to dispatch federal law enforcement troops to several cities in the U.S. that violent agitators have ransacked.
“Well, I’m going to do something—that, I can tell you. … Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country,” he said.
We are not experiencing any civil unrest right now, but I can think of nothing more likely to incite it than the presence of Trump-ordered military troops into Oakland.— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) July 20, 2020
“The governor and the mayor and the senators out there, they’re afraid of these people. That’s the reason they don’t want us to help them. They’re afraid,” President Trump said at the press conference.
The next day, vandals defaced Mayor Schaaf’s house, spray painting demands like “defund OPD,””cancel rent” and “wake up Libby.”
A spokesperson for Schaaf said Libby “does not support tactics meant to harm and terrorize others.”
No federal law enforcement officers have been identified in Oakland.