Most Oakland protesters are non-violent and behave as such. A few don't. They usually turn up at at the tail end of protests, much to the chagrin of others, and start breaking stuff. You can't walk down Broadway these days without seeing businesses with wood panels over their windows, as if they're waiting for the next one.
Trolling some of the Occupy groups on Facebook, after protestors damaged the Christmas Tree in Jack London Square, more than a few believed that a fifth column was trying to undermine them. A couple members of my neighborhood group that are sympathetic to the protesters think the the looters were "paid outsiders".
Interesting. I wonder how many outside looters got paid to block freeways nearly every night for a week? And what undercover government agency stopped the West Oakland BART trains, got arrested, and are now asking to have their fines lifted?
When Oscar Grant was killed, there was legitimate outrage against the Oakland power structure. Those protests had violent elements in it, but the police-on-protester violence outclassed them. It was disgusting and brutal, and they literally paid for it.
Compare that to how the OPD responded to the recent #BlackLivesMatter protests. The heavy handed law enforcement response didn't come from the OPD, but from Berkeley and the CHP. EBX characterizes the department as "... no longer (deserving) the reputation it once had.".
How responsible are protesters for the behaviors of a few looters? I'm not sure. I'm not sure if the city deserves to get shut down every night for a week, even for tragedies on the other side of the nation. I'm not sure how that math makes sense.
I am sure that all protesters are as responsible for looting as as all police officers are for people like Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo. I also think that meaningful reform ought to be acknowledged.
(This just in: A plan to shut down BART if they don’t lift the fine on the 14 people who shut down BART last month)