OAKLAND, Calif. -- A protest through the streets of downtown Oakland, California, in support of racial justice and police reform turned violent when “agitators" among the demonstrators set fire to a courthouse, vandalized a police station and shot fireworks at officers, authorities said.
About 700 demonstrators participated in what started as a peaceful march Saturday night but then some broke from the larger group and smashed windows, spray-painted graffiti and pointed lasers at officers, the Oakland Police Department said on Twitter. Several tweets called for peace and asked organizers to “help us provide safe spaces and safe places for demonstrators.”
Several fires were set in the downtown area, including one at the Alameda County Superior Courthouse that was quickly contained. Police said protesters at one point were “breaking windows and chanting racial slurs at residents.” Photos tweeted by the department showed broken glass and paint splattered on the police headquarters building.
Video posted by police showed a man kicking down barricades in front of the building after an “unlawful assembly” was declared by police around 11:30 p.m. and officers asked the crowd to disperse. Police said they made several arrests but did not provide details. There were no immediate reports of injuries to protesters or officers.
The protest began earlier Saturday evening with groups such as the “Wall of Moms,” similar to a group that formed in Portland, Oregon, as protesters faced off with U.S. agents deployed to that city to guard a federal courthouse. President Donald Trump had sent the federal agents to clamp down on protests that have occurred nightly since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.