I walked around downtown Berkeley this morning and took photos of the aftermath of last night’s protests. It had been a predominately peaceful event. Out of 500+ protesters, only 4-5 individuals smashed windows, started fires, and looted local businesses. The ransackers sadly had nothing to do with the message of the protest. Rather, these were opportunists who camouflaged themselves among peaceful protesters to loot and vandalize under the cloak of anonymity granted by a large group.
It was a frustrating distraction away from the protest’s message, and it undermined the peaceful majority. Now the national news is focused on the destruction caused by a small group, instead of discussing the point of the protest. Do not conflate the protesters with the vandals – these were two separate groups out last night for different reasons.
In fact, the actual protesters linked arms to defend storefronts, cleaned up trash, put out fires, stopped the looters when the police were nowhere to be found, and retrieved stolen goods to return to the shops. One protester was attacked with a hammer when he intervened to stop the vandalism. We need a concerted effort to prevent this distracting, disruptive, and harmful violence during any future protests – let’s focus on the message.
“Black lives matter” – outside the downtown Berkeley BART station
The Chase bank in downtown Berkeley had its windows smashed and they were boarded up by this morning
In a sad irony, the historic MLK civic center had its windows smashed overnight and they were boarded up this morning
This row of ATMs was smashed with hammers last night
ATM screen smashed by a hammer
Chase bank ATM in downtown Berkeley, with surveillance camera above it and swastika graffiti on the wall
Radio Shack was looted last night. It appears that several of the protesters stopped the vandals, took the stolen packages back from them, and threw them back inside the store.