Oakland City Attorney’s Office filed a lawsuit Thursday against four people arrested for crimes related to looting and vandalism in downtown Oakland following the conviction of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle on July 8.
A protest in downtown Oakland following the conviction was mostly peaceful. However, some individuals used the gathering – and the tragic death of Oscar Grant – as an excuse to commit acts of violence, loot homegrown businesses, vandalize public property and lash out in childish and destructive ways, according to City Attorney John Russo.
“Oakland has a long tradition of non-violent protest and dissent,” Russo said. “On July 8, some individuals disrespected that tradition and the righteous message of the protestors by treating our town like a lawless playground.”
“The individuals who set fires, assaulted journalists, robbed local business owners and incited chaos were not here for justice,” Russo said. “Sadly, it appears they were here for no other reason than to get an emotional rush from destruction of property, theft and lawlessness. Oakland will not tolerate this disrespect.”
Two of the defendants named in the lawsuit – Paul Rousseau and Raquel Sharp – were arrested July 8 after spray-painting graffiti on public property. Both were filmed in the act by Oakland police officers. Rousseau also tried to punch an undercover officer and attempted to steal the officer’s camera, according to OPD reports.
The City is suing Rousseau and Sharp for unspecified damages related to the graffiti and punitive damages to be determined.