Oakland Can’t Contain Zimmerman Verdict Protesters, Blames Police Shortage


After three nights of protests in Oakland that left many downtown businesses vandalized and a waiter recovering from a hammer attack, Interim Police Chief Sean Whent said an understaffed force and an effort to find a missing 21-month-old girl hampered officers’ ability to control agitators, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Whent would have liked to have had more officers on the streets Saturday night, when windows were smashed after a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman. He said the city did not have access to enough officers and did not realize the jury was deliberating that day.

Police increased staffing levels for a planned protest on Sunday night, but staffing dropped on Monday in part because police did not expect several hundred demonstrators to show up again. After a mostly peaceful march, a small group of vandals smashed windows, lit small fires, and threw rocks and bottles at officers. The department has 629 sworn officers, down from 837 in 2008, but up from a low of 612 this spring before an academy class was graduated.

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