Police Killing Leads to National Unrest

Photos by Eric J. Kos    Over the weekend, several signs appeared in downtown Alameda expressing anger over the death of George Floyd. Signs surrounding Alameda Police Department (APD) contained messages like #BlackLivesMatter.

Island not immune from impacts of George Floyd’s death

The ramifications of George Floyd’s death last week in Minneapolis have been felt throughout the country including here in Alameda.

Floyd, 46, died on May 25, after Minneapolis police officer Derek Michael Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while trying to arrest him, according to video surveillance. An independent medical examination by renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden ruled Floyd’s death was caused by asphyxia, when the body is deprived of oxygen. 

Alameda Police Chief Paul Rolleri spoke at the Mayor’s virtual Town Hall on Friday, May 29. When asked how law enforcement can help people of color feel safe he said, “The only way we could do it is by our deeds, our words and our actions.”

Protests were held in Minneapolis on May 26 and nationwide soon after. Rolleri released a statement on Monday, June 1, expressing his department’s contempt over Floyd’s death.

“Our community, along with so many, is mourning the senseless death of George Floyd,” wrote Rolleri. “What I saw on that video does not reflect the values of the Alameda Police Department (APD) and would not be tolerated by our department. Over the weekend, there were a number of peaceful protests in the Bay Area demanding justice. We stand with residents wanting to take action to prevent such brutal acts of racial injustice from happening again.”

A peaceful rally was held at Alameda Police Department last Monday. More than 100 people attended the “The Alameda Solidarity Rally & Protest for Black Lives” event, including Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Councilmember Jim Oddie and Rolleri. Speakers expressed their disdain for police brutality. 

What began as peaceful protests in the country in the middle of last week turned into exhibitions of looting and civil unrest by weekend. Images of people ransacking businesses, small and large, were seen on the news and social media. Police departments combated looters with tear gas and rubber bullets.   

Here in Alameda there were 15 reports of burglaries or petty thefts at commercial businesses on Sunday, May 31, and Monday, June 1, resulting in four arrests, according to APD police reports. 

“The Alameda Police Department strongly supports the right for people to protest and will do everything we can to facilitate that effort,” wrote Rolleri in his June 1 statement. “However, there are other groups that are not associated with the peaceful protesters who are committing violent and illegal acts, including rioting, looting and burglaries, and those acts that harm our community will not be tolerated.”

As a result the city enacted an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on June 1 and will remain in effect through June 5. Several Alameda businesses boarded up their windows to prevent looting. 

An uptick in crime was also noticeably prevelent in the East Bay. An undisclosed amount of APD officers responded to mutual-aid requests from the Alameda County Sheriff Office (ACSO) on Friday, May 29 and Sunday, May 31, according to police reports. APD public information officer Lt. Ryan Derespin would not disclose where officers were deployed or what procedures they took part in. The ACSO issued a curfew order for the entire county on June 1 at 8 p.m.
 

Eric J. Kos    Last Saturday night, police keep tabs on the neighborhood from the roof of APD headquarters. Protests nationwide were accompanied by wide-scale destruction and looting at night.