OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Law enforcement leaders across the Bay Area are trying to balance giving Black Lives Matter protesters space to voice outrage over the death of George Floyd, while also protecting the public from looters and vandals.
Oakland march organizers were dismayed on Monday when, in the midst of a peaceful march attended by 15,000, the city declared a curfew beginning at 8 p.m. The event was filled with impassioned speeches from East Bay youth supporting Floyd’s family and the black community at large. The march began at Oakland Tech High School during the daytime before the mayor gave word that a curfew was going to be enforced that evening, organizer Akil Riley said.
“We didn’t get notice of the curfew until during the protest. At that point, we had to make an adjustment and try to end it before seven. We ended it early but (police officers) were out there waiting.”
Riley and other organizers were disturbed that police arrested peaceful protesters for violating the curfew. Curfews do not help protesters feel solidarity with or sympathy from the Oakland Police Department, he said.
“It creates more of a police state, and furthers the distance between police and people. It’s bringing the country into shambles,” Riley said.
“I don’t think they are doing a good job. I want everybody to be safe because it doesn’t seem like they are trying to serve and protect us right now,” Riley said.
Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly told KRON4 that curfews helped police officers and sheriff’s deputies maintain public safety and order. The curfew were enacted following arson fires and looting at several shopping malls across the East Bay over the weekend. The Sheriff’s Office urged all East Bay residents to stay home due to widespread civil unrest.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office reported that 122 people were booked into jail during the previous night’s curfew.
“Eighty-two of those individuals were not from Alameda County cities. Several were from outside the region and state,” the Sheriff’s Office tweeted.
San Francisco declared a curfew starting Sunday night. Black Lives Matter protester Erica Moseley had been peacefully marching all day Sunday when a curfew was declared for that evening at 8 p.m.
“By 5 o’clock we all see that (cellphone) alarm, ‘beep beep beep,’ we see the curfew. Because I am black, I’m still scared. Eight o’clock comes. (Police) started coming out. It was getting scary. I started to leave with the other protesters,” she said.
Moseley said crowds who gather in the evening are very different from those who march during daytime demonstrations.
“The night crew is different from the morning crew. Come out here in the daytime so it doesn’t look like you’re coming outside at nighttime to loot. In order for you to be safe, I advise you to come into the daytime,” Moseley said.