Bonta Asks Oakland To Refocus Anger Over Zimmerman Verdict

A Woman carries a Trayvon Martin sign Monday
near 6th Street and Broadway in Oakland.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares

ASSEMBLY 18//OAKLAND | After three days of peaceful protest in the streets of Oakland following the not guilty verdict in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, which was marred by instances of violence and private property damage, Oakland Assemblyman Rob Bonta says the community needs to channel its anger from destruction to a social movement.

“We also must realize that our community is being judged on our response to the jury’s verdict,” said Bonta on Wednesday. “I echo President Obama’s call to ‘ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities.’ The counterproductive acts of those outside of Oakland who come into our city vandalizing storefronts of businesses employing hard-working Oakland residents and destroying property neither honors the memory of Trayvon Martin nor widens the circle of compassion and understanding.”

Few public officials outside of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s office have spoken out over the events following the acquittal of George Zimmerman Saturday night. Bonta’s statement regarding the violence in Oakland over the weekend and last Monday night is rare among the East Bay delegation.

Bonta, like Rep. Barbara Lee, added to a growing chorus of lawmakers urging the U.S. Department of Justice to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman. “Our community, which is still reeling from its own tragic, unnecessary shooting death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed young African American man, looks to federal authorities for justice so we can begin to heal these wounds,” said Bonta, who has focused his first year in the State Assembly on curbing gun violence and limiting access to firearms and ammunition.

Similar to a growing number of vibrant, yet violent protest in Oakland over the past three years, a few unfortunate events of broken storefront windows and the attack Monday of a waiter have turned the media and public focus away from the protest’s aims to spates of vigilantism. “I encourage our community and our nation to channel the passion of our outrage and sadness towards the vital, peaceful struggle for justice and equality,” said Bonta. “As a community and as a nation, and, painful as it may be at times, we must progress together or we will not move forward at all.”

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