Multiple arrests as dozens rally in Oakland against police brutality

Reuters / Stephen Lam
Dozens of protesters have been arrested this weekend in Oakland, California during rallies against police brutality and a new protest policy implemented by the mayor, who called for monitoring of street demonstrations.

About 100-150 activists marched on Sunday before the organizers ended the event, police spokeswoman Johnna A. Watson told AP. Later a smaller group of 15-20 people staged another protest.

At least four people were arrested and 19 other received citations, she said, adding that the rally was closely watched by officers.

On Saturday similar protest was staged in the city. However, it turned more violent as dozens of activists were either arrested or cited by police.

"I was complying with their order to back up. I still don't know," one of the protesters, Jahmese Myres told San Jose Mercury news. "My arrest was unnecessary and unwarranted."

The rallies were sparked by a controversial ban on nighttime protests interpreted by the Mayor Libby Schaaf. She said that the existing policies and laws allow police officers to clear streets of protesters.

According to Schaaf, the city also needs to adopt new policy to combat damage to property and violence. Many businesses in the city were badly damaged following the May Day protests.

READ MORE: ‘Black Lives Matter’ Xmas protest turns violent in Oakland

“You can't run roughshod over people because they're protesting your oppression,” said Cat Brooks, an organizer of both protests. “You can't push us off the streets.”

According to Rachel Lederman, a lawyer from the National Lawyers Guild who helped Oakland craft its policies, the new laws violate the guidelines.

“It doesn't make any sense because saying that marches have to be on the sidewalk has absolutely no relationship to impending property damage that might occur,” Lederman said. “Obviously that would happen on a sidewalk, not a street.”

Tensions have been running high in the city. On Thursday people gathered for SayHerName protest in honor of black women who face discrimination and violence at the hands of police officials across the country. The organizers say they were pushed by police off the streets, citing new policy.

READ MORE: #SayHerName: Activists push to recognize black women victimized by police violence

Oakland Police Department said in a statement that it will “continue to facilitate peaceful demonstrations while enforcing all laws against violence, vandalism, trespassing or other criminal activity.”