Oakland police prepare for May Day gatherings and tip of deliberate destruction
OAKLAND, Calif. - Police and business owners are asking for peace in Oakland this weekend ahead of several planned May Day events.
Oakland city leaders say it has been brought to their attention that some people may be intending deliberate violence and property damage.
"The Oakland Police Department is preparing to manage all events for May Day," said spokesman Paul Chambers.
At Bridge Bank on Webster Street, workers spent the Friday night before May 1 boarding up glass windows.
While several peaceful events are planned, Oakland leaders are preparing for the possibility of something else: what they call "deliberate property damage, violence and destruction" during May Day gatherings.
"We appreciate the warning. It sucks that there's stupidity still out here. But it's not Oakland and I'm confident that the people that are doing that...they're not Oakland," said Jeff Surratt, the general manager of Liege Lounge on 9th Street.
Surratt said he learned about the city's warning Friday afternoon.
He decided to leave boards on the bar's windows that were put up before the Derek Chauvin verdict.
And that time, they shut their doors.
"We closed on the Friday, but today we heard about it so late we're still going to open and just hope for the best and try to keep everyone safe," said Surratt.
Hoping things don't turn violent, the co-owner of E14 Gallery says she is not boarding up.
Viviana Rodriguez-Smith sympathizes with both small business owners like herself, along with demonstrators who break the law.
"I understand why people sometimes feel the need of breaking something, of doing something because you feel helpless and hopeless," said Rodriguez-Smith. "I have faith in my community to respect locally-owned shops."
Police and a representative from a small businesses group in Oakland spoke out Friday, pushing a message of peace.
"Oakland small business are some of the most strong supporters of social justice and social justice causes and completely support peaceful demonstration," said Salvan Hauser, executive director of the Jack London Improvement District.
Last year, the city's May Day events were largely limited to smaller gatherings.
This year, a new focus for some to include speaking out against violence on Asian Americans.
The Crispy Patas motorcycle club based in Oakland is planning a rally Saturday and says because of the city's warning, they will be aware of their surroundings.
That coincides with the message they're trying to send.
"We're actually passing out flyers that are translated in Cantonese, Mandarin and Vietnamese throughout Chinatown that spread that message of to always be aware of your surroundings," said club ambassador Josh Kim.
Oakland police say they will be ready to deploy officers as needed throughout the weekend.
City leaders say they want people to raise their fists, but nothing more.