Death of George Floyd sparks Bay Area protests

Protesters took to the streets of San Jose and Oakland on Friday over the killing of George Floyd, just hours after a former Minneapolis police officer was arrested and charged with his death. 

As the sun went down, a mass of protesters stormed Oakland's Interstate 880 near the Posey Tube where traffic was blocked by demonstrators. By 10 p.m. police declared the downtown gathering an unlawful assembly.

Oakland Police Department said several officers were injured in the area of 7th and Broadway when projectiles were thrown. There were reports of shattered glass at the Chase Bank and Walgreen's near 13th and Broadway. An explosive device went off at the Walgreen's, possibly starting a fire at the store, where people were seen stealing items. 

Police have asked the crowd to disperse and used tear gas. Arrests were made, but police did not indicate how many. 

Oakland Police spokesperson Ofc. Johnna Watson called for calm in the city's streets where several small trash can and dumpster fires broke out. Firefighters have put out several of these fires. In some cases early on, protesters even helped them.  

Watson said mutual aid was being brought in from as far Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties. 

Alameda County Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said they would also provide mutual aid.

The East Bay march got underway by 8 p.m. AC Transit buses had to be rerouted. Just before 9 p.m., the 12th Street BART station was shutdown due to the protest activity. A group of about 100 people had gathered earlier at Frank Ogawa Plaza. 

A line of Oakland police formed on downtown streets at Broadway and 7th near police headquarters. What appeared to be fireworks exploded on the streets. Video on social media showed police hurling tear gas canisters into a crowd of protesters. Sometimes the canisters were kicked back at police. 

Nenna Joiner, who owns Feelmore Adult Store in the downtown area, joined KTVU over the phone from her vantage point at 14th and Broadway. She said the protests could be both good and bad for the community. She noted it was the first time since COVID-19 that the community has had an opportunity to come together. She noted people arrived to the protests on bicycles and in one case, a wheel chair. 

Joiner said she has never in the past boarded up her business, but earlier in the afternoon, other downtown businesses began boarding their windows, preparing for the possibility that anger could boil over and cause property damage on the streets of the city.

Interim Oakland Police Chief Susan Manheimer said her office shares the frustration many feel.

Earlier in the South Bay, as many as 200 demonstrators faced off with San Jose Police Department and Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department. What began as a peaceful demonstration eventually turned violent. 

Police remained at the scene into the night. At around 10 p.m. Police were still trying to get crowds to disperse and were deploying tear gas at South 4th and San Fernando streets. 

Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office said that its personnel 
were involved in a shooting at 9:06 p.m. in the area of Sixth and Santa Clara streets in San Jose. 

The office said no San Jose police officers were involved in the 
incident. It was not clear if the shooting was related to the protests. They also did not indicate if anyone was seriously injured or killed in the shooting. The sheriff's department did not have further information, but said San Jose police was investigating. 

KTVU's SkyFox helicopter flew over the South Bay as early as 2 p.m. as demonstrators flooded the streets.

At around 3:45 p.m. the California Highway Patrol said protesters were blocking all northbound and southbound lanes of Highway 101 near Alum Rock Avenue. 

Cameras captured a confrontation where demonstrators shattered windows of an occupied vehicle on the highway. 

“I got punched in the face, and my cell phone was taken,” said one unidentified motorist.

The group of protesters fluctuated in size and broke off into smaller groups. After blocking traffic for about an hour, they moved off the highway and spilled onto Santa Clara Street.

A witness recorded video from the balcony of an apartment overlooking Highway 87 in Santa Clara County that appears to show a protester jumping on a car.

“There has been no justice. We’ve been peaceful and that has done nothing for us. It’s time to shake up the country. It’s time to shake up the world and show them, black lives matter. People’s lives matter,” said Juan Carlos Ceja, a demonstrator who drove to town from Fremont.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said he wants people to protest and use their constitutional right, but he does not want anyone getting hurt. 

Police have yet to provide a final arrest count, but at least a handful of demonstrators have been taken into custody. At least one police officer was hurt. The officer was taken to Valley Medical Center to be treated and is expected to be okay. There is video of the officer unconscious, being taken off the highway where he was said to be monitoring the protesters on U.S. 101.  

San Jose Police Officers Association commented on the injured officer from the Protect San Jose Twitter account. 

"We share the anger with what happened in Minneapolis but we have a #SJPD officer in the hospital now, attacked by violent protesters," the association said in a post. "More violence will not help. We need calm & respect for each other. Our officers will protect your ability to protest, but only peaceful protest."

"Whether we are in the street or not, we should share their outrage over the atrocious crime in Minneapolis. And we should share their sadness over George Floyd's horrible death," Liccardo said. "The anger and protests will always be appropriate responses to that injustice, but the violence won't be."

Liccardo confirmed that tear gas was initially deployed when the protests were at 10th and Santa Clara streets. The mayor said demonstrations in that area were declared an unlawful assembly. 

San Jose State University on Friday evening advised the campus to shelter in place until further notice as video and reports on social media indicated tear gas and projectiles were deployed by officers. 

Demonstrators threw traffic cones and water bottles at police. At one point someone let off a fire extinguisher. A dumpster fire burned briefly at North 3rd Street. A police car was also vandalized.  

“The last thing we wanted to do is use force. But I myself got hit with a rock. Some of our officers were being hit with rocks and bottles," said San Jose Police Capt. Jim Dwyer, who described the situation as volatile but understandably so. "We get the global picture. But in order to keep the peace, we’re trying to disperse the crowds."

At around 6:30 p.m., protesters surrounded San Jose City Hall and began shaking the barricades of a nearby high-rise under construction. KTVU's Jesse Gary, who was at the scene, reported City Hall was tagged with profane graffiti. He also suffered from tear gas when a brief scuffle broke out between a man and police. 

At that point, the protests there were mostly peaceful with only intermittent outbursts of violence. 

“I saw a group of kids trying to do something peaceful,” said Rev. Jethroe Moore II, president of the San Jose-Silicon Valley NAACP. "But they (police officers) wanted to push everybody.”

Demonstrations were also scheduled for San Francisco, but nothing nearly as significant as what happened to the east and south, materialized. 

On Friday, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott released a statement on the unrest associated with Floyd's death. He called the incident "extremely disturbing." 

The protests come four days after, now-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, was seen on camera kneeling on Floyd's neck as he was handcuffed and pleading that he could not breathe. Floyd later died at a hospital. 

On Friday, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the case. 

According to the criminal complaint against Chauvin, he had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, including nearly three minutes after he stopped moving and talking, the Associated Press reports.

Bay City News contributed to this report.