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A group of protesters smash the windows of an SUV after a peaceful rally and march earlier in the day to protest the shooting of Oscar Grant III on Wednesday January 14, 2009 in Oakland, Calif. (Anda Chu/Staff)
OAKLAND - While a murder charge brought against the former BART police officer who killed Oscar Grant III helped keep hundreds of protesters mostly peaceful in a downtown Oakland march Wednesday night, a much smaller crowd that stayed after the program turned violent, vandalizing a bus shelter and several downtown businesses.

Police had kept a distance from the crowd assembled on Broadway near 12th Street while a security team run by protest organizers tried to quell the group's rising aggression, but stepped in with tear gas when the crowd got out of control.

At least 18 people were arrested, the majority on felony vandalism charges, police Deputy Chief Dave Kozicki said.

''Out of 400 that were here, about 50 were determined to commit crimes,'' Kozicki said.

''It's unfortunate because for the most part the organizers did a good job of controlling the group. Hats off to them. But they couldn't stop a few from hijacking a legitimate agenda for criminal purposes.''

Plate glass windows and glass doors were shattered at Club One, Quiznos, Jamba Juice, Radio Shack and GNC Nutrition stores in the City Center.

Earlier in the evening, before the episodes of vandalism, police spokesman Jeff Thomason said ''a group of people'' was arrested in the possessing of Molotov cocktails and another woman was arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon. He had no further details.

The Coalition Against Police Executions (CAPE) staged the march in protest of former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle's fatal shooting of Grant in the early hours of New Year's Day as Grant, of Hayward, lay unarmed, facedown and restrained on the Fruitvale station floor. CAPE officials had stressed repeatedly in both the planning, promotion and execution of the rally that remaining peaceful would be crucial to their message.

Sheilagh Polk, a CAPE spokeswoman, said she was deeply saddened by the outbreak of violence, and vehemently denied responsibility for the vandals' actions.

''We spent hours upon hours upon hours working with Oakland police, working amongst ourselves, working with members of our own community who had been behind some of (last week's) rabble rousing, and held a very strong line on safety, on responsibility, on this being a peaceful demonstration,'' she said. Nearly every speaker during CAPE's program mentioned the word ''peaceful'' during their addresses to the crowd.

''I may be speaking out of pocket - I haven't talked to CAPE leadership - but I feel hijacked and I feel resentful,'' Polk said. ''This is not the point. This is not justice for Oscar Grant. This behavior does not bring justice to that brother. It gives them a cover to discuss things besides Oscar Grant. The eyes of the world were on Oakland tonight.''

City Councilman Larry Reid (Elmhurst-East Oakland) said, ''This is ridiculous. This is not about Oscar Grant now. This is about people who just want to trash Oakland.''

Meanwhile, the Napa Valley Register reported that Mehserle's family in Napa received a bomb scare. A southeast Napa neighborhood was evacuated when after Mehserle's parents found two unidentified packages late Wednesday on their front porch.

Among CAPE's five demands has been Mehserle's arrest, trial and conviction for second-degree murder. Several speakers in the program praised Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff for having Mehserle arrested and charged, but warned that pressure will remain on justice officials to secure a full trial and conviction.

''We want it clear: An arrest is the first stage of justice,'' Minister Keith Muhammad of the Nation of Islam said outside the Alameda County Courthouse, addressing a crowd that had marched there from Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.

''Unless we make our demands strong, it could be the last stage,'' he said.

CAPE has also demanded the resignation, retirement or recall of Orloff, accusing him of being soft on police abuse. The group also called for a criminal investigation into the behavior of other police officers present at the shooting.

Organizers repeatedly emphasized that the rally must remain peaceful, acknowledging the riot that broke out last week in downtown Oakland as another rally concluded.

''Today was a peaceful day,'' said Oakland resident Ise Lyfe, 26, as CAPE's program came to a close about 7 p.m. ''But if they let that cop go, that won't be a peaceful day in Oakland. The hood will be safe, but downtown will not be a peaceful downtown. City Hall will not be a peaceful City Hall.''

The rally program ended with a prayer led by Shaka Atthinnin, chairman of the Black August Organizing Committee, an Oakland group that works to free political prisoners. At-thinnin said that without the support of the community, Mehserle would not have been arrested.

''This has to go beyond today,'' At-thinnin said. ''We cannot let Oscar Grant die in vain.''

The rally opened at 4 p.m. in the plaza to a crowd of several hundred people. It opened with the beating of a Native American drum and singing.

''We come knocking on the door in the name of justice,'' Keith Clark, of the Word Assembly Baptist Church in Oakland, said. ''We don't come kicking. We have too much class for that. We come knocking to say to BART officials and the district attorney that we see what you have not done and we have heard what you have not said and we will remember it.''

Tracie Cooper, the mother of one of Grant's friends who was present at the shooting, called it a happy day.

''We got a little bit of justice,'' she said, referring to Mehserle's arrest Tuesday and the charges brought against him. ''This has never happened before. ... The Lord used Oscar (Grant) for a reason better than we all know.''

Several of the opening speakers called for a peaceful rally. Rally organizers called forward volunteers to lie facedown on the ground and assume Grant's position at the time of the shooting. About 50 did so in the middle of the plaza.

Organizers shouted the names of victims of other fatal police shootings, such as Amadou Bailo Diallo, a 23-year-old immigrant from Guinea, who was shot and killed in 1999 by four New York City police officers.

In between each name that was read, the crowd chanted in unity, ''Please don't shoot.'' Grant reportedly said those words to police shortly before he was shot and killed.

Dereca Blackmon, the cofounder of CAPE, said police brutality is not just an Oakland issue.

''We have 15 cities standing in solidarity with us. Let Oscar Grant's death be the end to police brutality in America,'' she said.

Mayor Ron Dellums also addressed the crowd, calling Grant's death an opportunity for change.

''Every time someone's life is taken by a city servant in the name of democracy we have a right to ask questions,'' Dellums said. He praised the activists for their efforts in demanding justice and getting answers to the killing.

''Victims don't bring change,'' he said, adding that people who understand the system are the ones who bring change.

About 5 p.m., motorcycles and young men on scraper bikes led the crowd down 14th Street and to the Alameda County Courthouse.

Grant's grandfather, also named Oscar Grant, stood in the middle of the street and said, ''We got to stop these people who have a gun and a badge and a license to kill.''

Staff writers Angela Woodall, Kristin Bender, Kelly Rayburn and Cecily Burt contributed to this story.

Editor's note: The following is updated coverage Wednesday of the arrest of former BART officer Johannes Mehserle and other events surrounding the New Year's Day shooting of Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland.

10:32 p.m.: Several businesses damaged in City Center

Police had kept a distance from the crowd assembled on Broadway near 12th Street while a security team run by protest organizers tried to quell the group's rising aggression, but stepped in with tear gas when the crowd got out of control.

At least 18 people were arrested, the majority for felony vandalism, Police Deputy Chief Dave Kozicki said.

"Out of 400 that were here, about 50 were determined to commit crimes," Kozicki said. "It's unfortunate because for the most part the organizers did a good job of controlling the group. Hats off to them. But they couldn't stop a few from hijacking a legitimate agenda for criminal purposes."

Plate glass windows and glass doors were shattered at Club One, Quizno's, Jamba Juice, Radio Shack and GNC Nutrition stores throughout the City Center.

— Cecily Burt

8:50 p.m.: Police make arrests, car windshields smashed Police have arrested a number of the vandals at 16th and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, said Oakland Police spokesman Officer Jeff Thomason. "We are trying to get (as many vandals as possible) in custody as fast as possible so we can minimize damage to the city," he said. A few cars parked on 12th Street and Clay Street had their windshields smashed.

8:25 p.m.: Lingering protestors become violent, smash bank glass window and door

Protestors have shattered a plate glass window and a glass door at the Wells Fargo bank in City Center at 12th and Broadway. Many windows, including a flower shop, a pizza store and the Jamba Juice had windows smashed. The 12 Street/City Center BART station is closed.

Protestors shattered glass on a bus shelter at 12th and Broadway and tried to over turn it. An empty storefront window at 10th and Clay street was also smashed. Police had used restraint on the protestors before the smashing began but have now begun using non-lethal force to try and control the protestors.

The people causing the problems are a small group, about 30 or 40 people, who splintered off from the main group, who were peaceful throughout the night and left the area shortly after the rally ended at 7 p.m. Police have chased them out of the City Center area but the protestors remain riled up in downtown. Before the smashing began, a couple of guys around 13th and Broadway jumped on a news rack, a car and a bus shelter, but organizers were able to get them to come down.

— Angela Woodall and Cecily Burt

7:45 p.m. Broadway reopens, about 100 protestors remain in downtown

Traffic is moving down Broadway in both directions. Rally organizers moved protestors, who had been in the intersection of 14th and Broadway, to the sidewalk but were unsuccessful in moving them to City Hall, like originally planned. About 100 people remain in the area of 14th and Broadway.

7:35 p.m. Rally for slain man ends, protestors refusing to leave downtown Oakland

The hundreds of protestors who returned to City Hall in Frank Ogawa Plaza cheered to several rap, spoken word and singing performances. Then there were additional speeches.

"The arrest is not going to calm us down or make us think it's all good," said 26-year-old Oakland resident Ise Lyfe. "Today was a peaceful day. If they let that cop go, that won't be a peaceful day in Oakland," The rally ended with a prayer led by Shaka At-thinnin, chairman of the Black August Organizing Committee, an Oakland group that works to free political prisoners, Prisoners of War and prisoners of conscious. At-thinnin said that without the support of the community, Mehserle would not have been arrested.

"This has to go beyond today,'' At-thinnin said. "We cannot let Oscar Grant die in vain."

After the rally broke up, about 100 people gathered in the middle of Broadway near 14th Street chanting, "no justice, no peace." At that point, officers made a police line at 14th and Broadway so the protestors could not move down 14th Street.

Police are in riot gear and word on the street is the protestors have about 10 minutes to clear before police take action to make them disperse. Organizers are frantically trying to clear protestors out of the intersection of 14th and Broadway. Protestors are chanting "police go home" and someone threw a bottle at the side of Walgreens at the corner of 14th and Broadway. Organizers are trying to march the protestors back to City Hall.

Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason did not have the exact arrest numbers as of 7:25 p.m., but said "a group of people" were arrested for possessing Molotov cocktails. One woman was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, Thomason said, but he had no further details.

—Sean Maher, Angela Woodall, Cecily Burt

6:26 p.m.: Two teenagers arrested, group heads back to Oakland City Hall

Two teenagers have been arrested. CAPE spokeswoman Sheilagh Polk said the boys, who attend Unity High School in Oakland, had asked for permission from a business owner at the corner of 14th and Alice streets to paint a peace mural on some boarded up windows.

"That permission apparently was not communicated to Oakland Police," Polk said. The two were arrested but whether charges will be brought remains unclear. Police were not immediately available to confirm the reason for the arrests.

Outside the Alameda County Superior courthouse on Oak Street, Keith Muhammad, a minister with the Nation of Islam, said, "I stand here proudly with black, brown, yellow, red and white (people) for Oscar Grant in whose name we gather for peace,'' he said.

"We want it clear: an arrest is a first stage of justice. Unless we make our demands strong, it could be the last stage."

Mohammad is also demanding the resignation, retirement or recall District Attorney Tom Orloff for reportedly moving too slowly on the case against Mehserle.

Oscar Grant's grandfather, Oscar Grant stood in the middle of the street in front of the courthouse and said "We got to stop these people who have a gun and a badge and a license to kill." The group is now headed back to Frank Ogawa Plaza, where more speeches are planned.

— Angela Woodall and Sean Maher

5:35 p.m. Protestors, police arrive at the Alameda County administration building

Protestors have arrived outside the Alameda County administration building, where about a dozen Oakland Police officers in riot gear are standing in front of the entrance. About 10 police offices are also lining nearby 12th Street. So far the event has been peaceful.

— Angela Woodall

5:15 p.m.: Activists marching toward Alameda County administration building

At least 300 activists, community members and city officials are marching down 14th Street toward the Alameda County District Attorney's office. They left City Hall after a brief rally where Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums spoke to a crowd of hundreds.

"Every time someone's life is taken by a city servant in the name of democracy we have a right to ask questions,'' Dellums said. The Oakland leader praised the activists for their efforts in demanding justice and getting answers to the killing. "Victims don't bring change,'' he said, adding that people who understand the system are the ones who bring change.

Police have blocked traffic at 13th Street and Broadway and possibly as far as 19th Street at Broadway. We will bring you updates as they become available.

— Angela Woodall

5 p.m.: Names of others victims of police shootings read as rally opens

The rally opened in Frank Ogawa Plaza to a crowd of several hundred just after 4 p.m. It opened with the beating of a Native American drum and singing. Keith Clark of the Word Assembly Baptist Church in Oakland said, "We come knocking on the door in the name of justice. We don't come kicking. We have too much class for that. We come knocking to say to BART officials and the district attorney that we see what you have not done and we have heard what you have not said and we will remember it."

Tracie Cooper, the mother of one of Grant's friends who was present at the shooting, called it a "happy day." "We got a little bit of justice,' said referring to the arrest of Mehserle Tuesday. "This has never happened before. The Lord used Oscar (Grant) for a reason better than we all know."

Several of the opening speakers called for a peaceful rally. Rally organizers called forward volunteers to lie facedown on the ground and assume Grant's position at the time of the shooting. About 50 did so in the middle of the plaza. Organizers shouted the names of victims of other fatal police shootings, such as Amadou Bailo Diallo, a 23-year-old immigrant from Guinea, who was shot and kill in 1999 by four New York City police officers.

In between each name that was read, the crowd chanted in unity "Please don't shoot." Grant reportedly said those exact words shortly before he was shot and killed. Dereca Blackmon, the co-founder of Coalition Against Police Executions said police brutality is not just an Oakland issue. "We have 15 cities standing in solidarity with us. Let Oscar Grant's death be the end to police brutality in America."

— Sean Maher

4:45 p.m.: Mehserle's attorney confident client will be cleared

Mehserle's attorney, Chris Miller, in a news conference at his firm's Sacramento offices, expressed confidence his client will be cleared of the murder charges, suggesting that there's more to the case than what's been seen on the homemade video that has gained nationwide attention and inflamed Bay Area residents.

"The case won't be tried by video alone," Miller said. "I'm confident this case is not just about a video. It's not just about certain circumstances that folks may want to focus on. The courtroom is the appropriate place to present the evidence and bring out all of the facts of this case. And I'm confident when that's done, he'll be cleared of these charges."

Miller said he "certainly appreciates" anger from the community, "that people might want to protest peacefully. As for why they're doing it relative to anything my client did, I won't comment."

"I understand there are a lot of questions out there," he said. "This case is not going to be tried in the media. We're sensitive to the community's interests but my client has a right to a fair trial."

Miller would not comment on whether his client will seek a plea deal.

Miller said he did not consider his client a fugitive, and that he surrendered to Oakland police "very cooperatively."

"He was always prepared to surrender himself," he said. "It's not an issue of a person attempting to flee a charge or prosecution.

"He was in constant communication with me and my office," he added. "There was no effort whatsoever to avoid arrest. He took his family up there for a few days to get away from the pressures of what was going on. There were significant death threats against him and his family. He got out of the area to ease his mind a little bit."

He would not elaborate on the nature or the volume of the death threats. "I know they're being investigated."

Mehserle is doing "as well as can be expected under the circumstances," Miller said. "He's a fine young man and I'm privileged to be representing him." He also called him a fine officer with an "excellent work history." (He'd) been on the force for two years.

He would not say whether Mehserle would talk with investigators now that he's turned himself in. He'd resigned from the BART police force rather than face questioning on the killing, a decision he made while consulting with his attorneys.

"We made decisions we think are appropriate," Miller said.

—Steve Harmon

4:04: County officials clear out administration building

Starting at about 3 p.m. this afternoon, cars and people starting clearing out of downtown Oakland around the courthouse. The county told its employees to go home no later than 4 p.m. from the administration building — which sits across the street from the courthouse and the D.A.'s office. The county — I believe the sheriff's department — removed all objects from the sidewalk around the area (i.e. garbage cans, newspaper racks) and put them in the administration building, clearing giving people less things to throw if things turn violent. — Chris Metinko

3:55 p.m. Police chief: cops ready for crowds

Demonstrations are set to begin and Police Chief Wayne Tucker said this afternoon all hands will be on deck in case things get out of control.

"We have the whole department ready to respond to this," Tucker said. "We're all here."

Tucker and Mayor Ron Dellums alike hoped crowds would not turn unruly as they did one week ago when police ended up arresting more than 100 people. Tucker said police met with demonstration organizers twice this week to work toward keeping the protests peaceful. Some officers will monitor a planned march through Oakland's streets and speaking events and all others will be on call in case they are needed, the chief said.

"While we've got plenty of staff to facilitate this march and the presentations that are going to occur, we've certainly planned for that element that has another agenda," he said.

— Kelly Rayburn

3:40 p.m. Clorox also closing early due to protests

The Clorox Company encouraged 1,100 employees to leave work at noon today and will close their building at 1221 Broadway at 2 p.m., spokesman Dan Staublin said.

"Things went fairly smoothly for us last week and no employees reported having any problems, but the events still reinforced that we have to take precautions for employee safety," Staublin said.

— Sean Maher, Staff Writer

12:45 p.m. City Hall employees leaving early to avoid protests

Acting City Administrator Dan Lindheim authorized city employees who work downtown to leave at 3:30 p.m. today. Lindheim said it was a precaution due to expected demonstrations taking place downtown.

However, that may not be early enough to entirely avoid the rally. Organizers are now saying that music will start at 3:15 p.m. in Frank Ogawa Plaza, which is outside Oakland City Hall, "to give the crowd something to do before our program starts at 4 p.m." according to Sheilagh Polk.

Polk added that despite Orloff's announcement of murder charges, they are still planning to march to his offices.

— Kelly Rayburn and Sean Maher, Staff Writer

Noon: District Attorney says lesser charge of manslaughter not warranted

The Alameda County District Attorney said Wednesday his office has charged a former BART police officer with the murder in the death of an Oakland man on New Year's Day.

District Attorney Tom Orloff said Johannes Mehserle turned himself into authorities Tuesday night after a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

Mehserle is accused of shooting and killing Oscar Grant III in the Fruitvale BART station. Mehserle waived extradition at a Nevada hearing and will be returned to Alameda County today.

It is expected Mehserle will be arraigned Thursday afternoon in Oakland.

Orloff said his office decided to charge Mehserle with murder because there is evidence of an unlawful, intentional killing. However, Orloff repeated several times that the charge does not specify the degree of murder, and refused to speculate on what the final charge would be.

In answer to question why Mehserle wasn't charged with a lesser crime, such as manslaughter, Orloff said the facts of the investigation did not speak to that.

"From the evidence we have, there's nothing that would mitigate that, something lower than murder," Orloff said.

John Burris, who is representing Grant's family in a civil lawsuit against BART, said he anticipates the charge will be second-degree murder.

Orloff denied that the timing of the arrest and pressing of charges have anything to do with the expected large rally scheduled for today in downtown Oakland.

"Those that see it that way will continue to see it that way," Orloff said. "People who want to be cynical will continue to be cynical."

— Chris Metinko, Staff Writer

11:15 a.m. Mehserle waives extradition to California

Johannes Mehserle, 27, waived extradition to California during a brief court appearance early Wednesday in Minden, Nev., and was being held without bail. Officials said he'll be returned to California no later than Friday.

Mehserle surrendered without incident Tuesday at a family friend's house in an upscale neighborhood of Douglas County on the east shore of Lake Tahoe, law enforcement officials said. Officers had advised his attorney, Christopher Miller, that an arrest warrant had been issued. -Associated Press

11 a.m. Protest organizers call for deeper probe of shooting

Dereca Blackmon, co-founded of the Coalition Against Police Executions (CAPE) and organizer behind a 4 p.m. downtown rally today expected to draw over 1,000 people:

"Obviously we're pleased the DA has arrested officer Mehserle. We are disappointed it took the suspect fleeing the state for him to take action."

"The arrest raises more questions than answers: Why we thought he was under 24-hour surveillance; how was he allowed to flee the state?"

"We've put out five demands and we're standing by those. In particular we asked for an investigation into the other police who were present at the shooting, for them to be suspended and considered for charges. We don't feel the BART investigation is significant, and we want to know about excessive force used by other officers."

Among CAPE's demands was a joint insistence with a local black clergy coalition for the resignation, removal or recall of Alameda District Attorney Tom Orloff. Blackmon said organizers are reviewing this demand in light of the impact Orloff's removal could have on the case against Mehserle.

Blackmon said that while the arrest did spark a certain amount of good faith within the community, "We'd certainly have a little more faith if it wasn't a fugitive situation. This was the point we were trying to make a week ago, why it was so important to arrest him immediately. If he was able to get to Nevada, he could have gotten further. Why was a fugitive warrant issued?"

— Sean Maher, Staff Writer

10:45 a.m. Barbara Lee issues statement on Mehserle arrest

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, issued this statement following the decision by the Alameda County District Attorney to charge BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle with murder following the shooting death of Oscar Grant III, who died after being shot at the Fruitvale BART Station on Jan. 1.

"After two long weeks and many expressions of outrage from the community, I am pleased that this arrest was finally made," Lee said. "I will continue to work with all parties involved to ensure that justice is served."

"My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family of Oscar Grant as they grieve the loss of their loved one. They deserve our support and assistance during this difficult period."

-Chris Metinko, Staff Writer