Police try to incite riots and looting during Berkeley and Oakland protests, say sources.

Berkeley, Oakland Protests: Protesters Say Undercover Officers Tried To Incite Looting [UPDATE]

UPDATE: Oakland Police have identified the outside agency involved in the Oakland-Berkeley protest arrests and alleged looting incitement as California Highway Patrol.

Original Story:

In Berkeley and Oakland, protests Wednesday night came to an abrupt halt when two undercover officers say they were forced to begin making arrests. Protesters, however, say that before being unmasked, the officers were banging on windows and trying to get protesters to riot and loot.

The stories being told about the photos and the events surrounding them are hard to believe. The facts that are agreed upon appear to be that two undercover officers infiltrated the Berkeley and Oakland protests, that protesters became suspicious that the masked individuals were undercover officers, the officers were unmasked, and that arrests ensued.

The details as told by those in the protests, though, are disturbing. According to them, as the marches proceeded through Berkeley and Oakland, the two masked officers banged on windows and attempted to devolve protests into looting and rioting. Privacy SOS says that, according to protesters’ stories, some became suspicious and pulled one man’s mask off. The officer then pulled out his baton, and the other officer was punched in the face.

NBC shares the story from the officers’ side, and there’s little difference in the facts as stated, except that the story begins when protesters attack the officer, rather than with a tale of why they attacked.

There may be evidence of the officers inciting looting on cell phone video taken during the protests, though. On Twitter, several of the Berkeley and Oakland protesters are discussing whether to post said video publicly or reserve it for legal counsel.

There were similar reports during the protests in St. Louis immediately following the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson. Like the Oakland and Berkeley protesters, Ferguson demonstrators said that police had done at least some of the damage. There’s a video circulating that some say shows an officer setting a car on fire. There is no question that demonstrators caused a great deal of destruction that night, of course. It’s been clearly shown in plenty of television footage. Whether the video really shows police setting fires to throw protests into a negative light is another question. From the reflection in the store window, it’s clear that there were already fires burning. Oakland Police Lieutenant Chris Bolton responded to the incident on Twitter this morning, saying that the officers were from an outside agency, not Oakland PD, and that an investigation has already been requested. He asked for any evidence to be shared with him for forwarding.

Though Lt. Bolton did not name the outside agency in question, he does appear to be taking seriously allegations that officers tried to incite crimes during Oakland and Berkeley protests.

[Photo credit: freeside510]

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