Jan 8, 2009 1:38 pm US/Pacific
Inside The Oakland Riot: A First-Hand Account
Eye On Blogs: Post Your Comments, Reactions To Joe's Riot Account
OAKLAND (CBS 5) --
You've heard of a mob mentality. Well, I've just seen it in action.
Wednesday night's riot in Oakland developed quickly like a spark into a wildfire, and I was right in the middle of it.
It started with a peaceful demonstration at the Fruitvale BART station. Hundreds of demonstrators carried signs, shouted into megaphones and voiced their opinions.
Suddenly, a large segment of the crowd started walking off.
"Suddenly, a protester pointed at a police car. Someone started cursing at the officers who were standing behind it. The crowd surged. They rolled up a dumpster and set it on fire. It escalated. Someone else threw rocks; breaking the windshield. Traffic piled up and officers started shouting to the drivers, "Roll up your windows!"
"About 3 dozen officers in riot gear and what appeared to be a SWAT armored personnel carrier lined up in formation. Officers fired tear gas into the crowd, and they quickly dispersed."
"Demonstrators would occasionally disperse, but then instigators in the crowd who appeared to be anarchists called them back.
They wouldn't identify themselves, but those instigators wore bandanas on their faces and seemed more intent on provoking confrontations and throwing stuff at police than truly having their voices heard.
"Come stand with us," they implored. "Stand up for Oscar Grant!"
The crowd would then return. And they were getting bolder. Some protesters screamed just inches from the faces of officers. The cops stood still.
Others waved photos of Grant and called the officers "pigs" and "murderers." Other demonstrators lay face down with their arms behind their backs to demonstrate what Grant was doing when he was shot in the back by a BART police officer.
Shortly after 8 p.m., the Oakland Police gave the signal, and they slowly marched forward. Most protesters scattered; damaging cars and storefront windows on their way. They set trash cans and at least two cars on fire.
Glass started raining down. Bottles, trash – anything protesters could get their hands on – were flying at officers. They kept marching. Officers mechanically stomped over a woman's bike as they chased her off. Other protesters who stood their ground were hit with billy clubs."