San Francisco

Protesters March in Oakland After Deadly Police Shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota

Hundreds of protesters marched through Oakland late Thursday in response to recent deadly officer-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota.

The protest, dubbed the "Shut It Down" rally, started at about 7 p.m. at Frank Ogawa Plaza, near City Hall. The group marched back and forth between there and the Oakland Police Department, before making its way to Interstate 880 to block traffic near the Broadway exit.

The group stayed on the freeway well into the night, some even playing music and dancing in what looked to be a party atmosphere. The CHP issued a Sig-alert for both directions of 880 around 9:10 p.m. and gave big-rigs permission to use Interstate 580 temporarily.

Police presence at the freeway scene was minimal, protesters said, but a group of officers stood in formation outside the police station in response to a damaged door.

The protest stemmed from the deadly shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, rekindling the contentious debate regarding use-of-force by law enforcement.

"I hate to say race, but there's a supremacy issue here," said John Burris, a civil rights attorney. "There's a lack of respect for the African-American man's life."

Burris has worked on cases including the fatal shooting of Mario Woods by San Francisco police and the death of Antioch resident Rakeem Rucks, who died during an arrest last June.

Since then, San Francisco and other Bay Area police departments have begun re-examining so-called de-escalation tactics.

#Shutitdown: Protest Against Police Violence in Oakland

Burris said that's the opposite of what we saw in Minnesota and Baton Rouge.

"De-escalation means you talk, take the time, you contain and you don't have force if you don't have to use force," Burris said.

San Francisco police credit their de-escalation training for the peaceful end to a four-hour standoff with an armed man on Wednesday. The suspect was eventually taken into custody and carried off on a stretcher.

"If you take the time, use your verbal skills, use a hostage negotiator, you can prevent deadly force being used," Burris said.

While videos of the Louisiana and Minnesota shootings paint a grim picture, some claim it does not show the full story.

"We don't really know what happened, that's the difficulty with it," attorney Justin Buffington said. "And I think that's why we're saddled with trying to make sense of these two conflicting accounts."

By about 11 p.m., the I-880 crowd had dwindled to about 500 people, according to Oakland police, and CHP officers were on hand, managing the freeway.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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