Oakland -- Protesters marched peacefully Friday, this time with a symbolic destination: the Fruitvale BART station. Police also had a more visible presence after previous marches descended into bouts of vandalism.
Friday evening marked the fifth night of Oakland protests in less than a week demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen killed in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer. This, however, is the first time since the Saturday verdict acquitting George Zimmerman that Oakland protesters planned to march into East Oakland.
"The intention was for this to be a different kind of march," said the Rev. Kamal Hassan, a speaker and organizer from Richmond. who helped lead a prayer circle at the end of the night.
More than 100 protesters marched from downtown to the Fruitvale BART station where they held a vigil at the site where another unarmed black teen, Oscar Grant, was killed by a BART police officer in 2009.
One Oakland activist who has been critical of the disorganization and chaos of earlier protests said the fact that there was a symbolic destination helped focus its message.
"It makes a historical connection. It's important for people to see what happened with Trayvon isn't an isolated incident," said Kazu Haga, who teaches nonviolence in schools and jails.
About nine African-American men, dressed in shirts and ties, met on the steps of City Hall to "stand up" and send a message against the profiling and negative portrayal of black men.
Friday's march and vigil come on the heels of President Barack Obama's statements earlier Friday in which he reflected on the acquittal of Zimmerman and how it had affected Americans.
"Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago," the president said in his first on-camera response to Saturday's verdict. "In the African-American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here. I think it's important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away."
As protesters gathered at the scheduled meet at Frank Ogawa Plaza, crowds were smaller than in days past, with media and police presence nearly as heavy as those who planned to march to Fruitvale Station for the planned vigil.
Reminders of the past week's events were still evident throughout the downtown area, with businesses working to clean up broken windows and graffiti left in the wake of vandalism on the more violent days of the protests.
Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Johnna Watson said Friday that every available officer would be on duty to monitor protesters' actions. While the department would help to facilitate the march to Fruitvale Station, Watson stressed that criminal activity would not be tolerated.
At Youth Radio, the plywood used to cover the front of the studio after its windows were destroyed last weekend was decorated with a vibrant memorial dedicated to Martin.
The project, which was started Thursday, is nearly complete and artist Miguel Perez, who helped paint the piece, was working Friday to touch up the final details.
Perez said Youth Radio called him just days ago asking him to "beautify the space and to not have it look so fearful."
Staff writer Doug Oakley and The Associated Press contributed to this report.