The City of Oakland has been the site of three nights of sometimes violent protests after a jury acquitted neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager.
About an hour after the not guilty verdict was read in Florida Saturday night, protesters were already gathering on the streets of Oakland.
Interim Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent said Tuesday that his department was caught off guard by the protests, because he was unaware that the jury was even deliberating on the weekend.
"We didn’t find out they were deliberating until Saturday. We were preparing for a protest, but we didn’t think it was going to happen over the weekend," Whent said.
Alleged anarchists joined the march in Oakland and broke dozens of downtown windows, set fire to flags and tagged many buildings and vehicles in the downtown area.
Whent said when the verdict was read, he had only normal Saturday night staffing. "As soon as I heard there was a verdict, I came into work," Whent said.
The lack of police on the streets Saturday night might explain why there were no arrests though lawlessness was evident.
Oakland businesses have spent the past three morning cleaning up.
Protesters smashed downtown storefront windows and sprayed graffiti on businesses Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights.
On Monday night, the protesters shut down I-880 near Jack London Square. Police said they also hurled rocks and bottles at officers who threw tear gas in response to disperse the crowd.
Tuesday night was expected to be protest free, but Oakland police said they were deploying more officers in anticipation of a fourth straight night of protesting. Officer Johnna Watson said police were unaware of any planned protests for Tuesday, but they will be prepared if any break out.