Oakland Riots After George Zimmerman Verdict Were Smaller Than First Reported

Riots in Oakland in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict appeared to be smaller than original reports indicated, with a handful of the 125 protesters starting fires and smashing windows downtown.

The demonstration came shortly after a six-person jury in Florida found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and appeared to solidify fears that protesters would turn violent in the wake of the verdict.

Original reports from Bay Area media placed the number of protesters in Oakland at more than 200, starting fires and breaking windows at a Wells Fargo Bank. Later reports revised that number, saying it was closer to 125 protesters.

Some observers took pictures of the destruction in the George Zimmerman riot, including broken windows and police cars sprayed with graffiti.

Another protest took place across the bay in San Francisco, with a group gathering at the 24th Street Mission BART Station and marching down Valencia Street chanting “Justice for Trayvon Martin.” The demonstration then ended peacefully.

Several other cities in California and across the country saw protests, but fears that there would be violence to the level of the Rodney King verdict were unfounded.

In Oakland, the small riot that broke out after the George Zimmerman verdict ended in the early morning hours Sunday, when protesters disbursed.

Officials in Sanford, Florida, the setting of the George Zimmerman trial, said they were prepared for the possibility of riots. Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith and Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger spoke earlier in the week, calling on people to use the verdict as a chance for dialogue rather than violence.

But they also said they were prepared to take action if riots broke out after the George Zimmerman verdict.

“We will not tolerate anyone who uses this verdict as an excuse to violate the law,” Eslinger said.
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