CLASS WAR ON THE STREETS OF OAKLAND AFTER THE SUPERBOWL
After the Oakland Raiders football team lost (48-21) in the Super Bowl yesterday, there was widespread rioting in the streets of Oakland.
Crowds gathered on International Boulevard in East Oakland, taking over intersections and blocking the street. People danced to hip hop music, hopped on cars, and waived Raiders flags.
Police, who had pre-emptively shut down dozens of blocks of downtown Oakland, were quick to respond. Hundreds of police in riot gear moved in, firing volleys of tear gas and wooden bullets in an attempt to disperse the crowds. What had been a party turned into a pitched battle. As one man put it, "Hey we're all cool here. It's when the fucking pigs come down and start shooting at us that the shit starts."
People threw bottles and rocks at police, frequently forcing them to retreat. When groups were dispersed, they reformed several blocks away. A MacDonalds was trashed and set on fire. Several cars were tipped over and burned. A number of police cars had their windows smashed. Benches, dumpsters and debris were placed in the street and set on fire. One police car that attempted to drive through an intersection filled with people was pelted with projectiles as people chanted "Fuck the police!"
The rioters came from a diverse cross-section of Oakland's working class. Black and white, Asian and Latino, joined together against the universally hated Oakland Police Department. Children as young as eight could be seen hurling rocks toward police lines. "It's like fucking Bethlehem!" said one man.
The corporate media were there as well. The following was a dialogue between a journalist from the San Francisco Chronicle and a man on the street.
Man: "Can you believe this police brutality bullshit. You guys should go down there." [points to where the action is.]
Journalist: "No. I was walking around before and some guys said I better watch out, they're beating up white people. The best place to be is right behind the police lines."
Man: "No fucking way, I fucking hate the police."
Journalist: "OK Whatever, you go walk up there then white boy.
Man: "Fuck you this isn't about race, this is about poor people being fucking pissed off at the police. You're a fucking racist, a motherfucking racist bastard."
Journalist: "Hey I'm not racist, my wife is black. So fuck you! You're real working class."
Man: "Fuck you! I can't believe you fucking corporate media fucking scumbags. You come down here--you fucking racists--and hide behind the police lines!"
At this point the journalist got in his car and sped away, narrowly avoiding a shower of rocks and bottles.
In today's San Francisco Chronicle, the rioters are referred to as "troublemakers" who "weren't from the neighborhood."
The rioting lasted well into the night moving from place to place in over 50 blocks of East Oakland. At a late night press conference, the police announced that they had arrested over 25 people. But they were outnumbered and outfought for hours. "They thought this was all they shit," one youth said during the rioting, "but this is our shit now!"