Oakland Mayor, Police Chief Underscore Right To Peaceful Protest

Oakland mayor Ron Dellums and police chief Anthony Batts threw their support behind the family of Oscar Grant at a news conference early Thursday evening, emphasizing the people’s right to protest peacefully and urging Oakland residents to think beyond the pain. “The journey to justice does not have to end here,” Dellums said, a statement he’s often repeated in the weeks leading up to the verdict. As of 4:45 p.m., Batts said the police department had not made any arrests. KGO Radio reported at about 7:30 p.m. that there had still been no arrests. Batts said at the press conference he feared that the strong public denouncements following the verdict could incite people to violence. “There’s some pretty good speeches right now,” Batts said to a woman standing nearby. “That’s what concerns me. That’ll make the difference.” But he said police would support people’s right to protest as long as they remained peaceful. “We were expecting that any level of verdict was going to have people come out one way or the other,” he said. “And we’re going to facilitate their right to protest.” He refused to discuss the department’s plans for protests. “We do not discuss deployment,” he said. He mentioned the department had not had enough training in use of the LRAD, a controversial audio device, but refused to say whether or not the department would use the device. Before the news conference began, Batts and other officials had lined up against the wall at the department’s emergency operations center and watched the Grant family on live television.