Protesters Arrested, Oakland Police Call for Assistance

Hundreds of protesters angry with the acquittal of a neighborhood watch volunteer for a fatal shooting in Florida marched through downtown Oakland Monday night and police have called for mutual aid from other agencies.

The protest is the third in three days in Oakland following the announcement Saturday that George Zimmerman was found not guilty of the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin after a confrontation where he followed Martin believing he was suspicious.

The protest briefly blocked traffic on Interstate Highway 880 and by Tuesday morning, nine people had been arrested, police said. One of the people had a BB gun, police said.

The rally began at about 6 p.m. in Frank Ogawa Plaza and was initially led by a team of protesters on bicycles -- some who decorated their wheels in an Oakland style known as "Scraper Bikes."

After departing the plaza, protesters marched past Oakland police headquarters, briefly onto the highway before being dispersed by Oakland police and California Highway Patrol officers, and then through Chinatown and toward Lake Merritt.

Police called for assistance from other area law enforcement agencies and there were brief confrontations with officers at several locations, including at the entrance to Interstate Highway 580 near Lake Merritt and at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse at 12th and Oak streets.

Police warned tonight that "anyone caught committing acts of vandalism or violent crimes will be subject to arrest."

There were scattered reports of vandalism -- including Dumpsters pulled into the street -- but not at the level of destruction that happened Saturday night when numerous downtown businesses had windows smashed or were covered in spray paint.

The City of Oakland said in a statement today that police are trying to find video footage of the vandalism in order to arrest the people involved. The statement also said that interim chief met with the owners of most of the vandalized businesses and listened to their concerns while sharing police enforcement plans for tonight's protests.

"We recognize the death of Trayvon Martin as a tragic event felt throughout the community. We understand the verdict announcement is an emotional one. We are committed to supporting peaceful assembly and freedom of speech," the statement, signed by Whent, Mayor Jean Quan and City Administrator Deanna Santana read.

San Francisco Bay Area ANSWER organizer Frank Lara earlier today linked the Martin killing to larger issues such as race, police brutality, economic disparity and gentrification.

"It's such a shocking ruling," he said.

He said many Bay Area residents can relate to the case because they feel as though they are discriminated against "for being poor, for being black for being Latino."

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