“Peaceful protest turns violent,” read the San Francisco Chronicle headline about the May 1 protest in Oakland that ended badly. Police arrested about a dozen people after activists trashed new cars and smashed bank windows. I love that headline. It makes it seem as if it’s an anomaly when an Oakland protest ends with errant sparks and glass shards — even though a social-justice demonstration in Oakland has a better chance of ending with vandalism than a Hollywood marriage has in ending in divorce.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf had warned that violence would not be tolerated, but to no effect. On Saturday morning, she and police Chief Sean Whent had to admit that they had failed to anticipate — and thus prevent — the violence. “A very small group of people with rocks in their pockets and malice in their hearts disturbed what was otherwise a positive day in Oakland,” said Schaaf.
If Schaaf wants a different outcome, she should tell the protest community this: When the sun goes down, go home. Make it easier for police to curb what I would call “protest brutality.”