OAKLAND, Calif. (CBS/KPIX) Oakland police arrested 83 people Thursday night after a group of looters destroyed local businesses following the involuntary manslaughter verdict in the trial of Johannes Mehserle.
Jurors found Mehserle, a white polcie officer, guilty in the videotaped New Year's Day 2009 killing of unarmed black man, 22-year-old Oscar Grant III, but many felt that the verdict did not fit the crime.
Prosecutors had sought a more serious second-degree murder conviction.
According to CBS affiliate KPIX, police said a group of looters broke into stores while a group of approximately 800 protesters demonstrated.
A crowd of people stormed their way into a Foot Locker athletic shoe store, smashing windows and grabbing items, reported police.
"There is no need for this. This makes us look like animals. We came here for peace," said Jonathan Trotter, 34, who regretfully observed the looting. "This is a justification for the verdict."
A jury consisting of eight women and four men, none of them black, deliberated for six hours over two days before delivering their decision. Involuntary manslaughter typically carries a sentence of two-to-four years in prison.
Banks were a prime target for the violence, said KPIX. Local branches of California Bank and Trust and Chase bank were damaged. Oakland police and Alameda County Sheriff's deputies stood on guard at the banks in riot gear until after 12:30 a.m., said KPIX.
Police Chief Anthony Batts said he was proud of the way officers responded, but commented that was disappointed by the small group of people who damaged property and assaulted police and other protesters.
"To come to this city and to do the damage is something I frown upon," he said. "We deserve better. This city is not the wild, wild West. We will not tolerate it."
Mayor Ron Dellums said he was satisfied with the way police responded and begged for those displeased with the involuntary manslaughter verdict to protest peacefully.
"We want to compliment people on their passion for justice, but also on their passion for peace," Dellums said.