Protest organizer: "I can't equate human life with broken glass"

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) – One of the organizers for Oakland's May Day protest on Monday said he was not upset with those who chose to vandalize, despite the fact that the violence left small business owners with thousands of dollars in damage.

The majority of the damage happened on Auto Row in Oakland near 30th and Broadway on Friday, May 1.

Business owners like Don Marshall was still cleaning up the damage left behind from vandals who split from peaceful protestors.

"Everybody has a right to free speech and obviously there's issue why people are out there," Marshall said. "It only takes a few bad apples, hooligans basically, that are tearing up everybody's property and the message is lost in the damage."

But the organizer of the protest, Bakari Olatunji with the Black is Back Coalition, said the violence doesn't compare to the violence the Black community sees every day.

"They can replace the glass one way, shape or form," Olatunji said. "They can still run a business and make money whereas people lose their lives and that is irreplaceable. I can't equate human life with broken glass."

Oakland Police said 13 people were cited or arrested: 9 for failure to disperse, 1 for assault on an officer, 1 for having tools of violence, 1 for burglary, and 1 for public intoxication.

Investigators are reviewing each case file and determining which one to forward to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for review.

Joe Abraham of American Auto Upholstery and Glass said he does not understand why officers did not arrest people on the spot as soon as windows were broken.

"I am surprised police are next to [protestors] breaking windows and they cannot do nothing, it's bad," Abraham said.

Following Friday's protest, Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent told reporters their priority was protecting human life over property and the crowd was hostile at the time.

Mayor Libby Schaaf added that had officers intervened during the violence, it could have put their lives in danger.