Oakland to Hire Unarmed Private Guards to Bolster Security Presence

By Matthew Harwood

In the aftermath of violent riots provoked by a police shooting, Oakland, California, will hire unarmed private security guards to help police patrol the city's streets in anticipation of more protests.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Forty-eight downtown businesses were vandalized during protests Wednesday and Jan. 7 over the New Year's Day killing of Oscar Grant, an unarmed man, by BART police. Former Officer Johannes Mehserle was arrested Tuesday and has been charged with murder.

Wednesday's protest was mostly peaceful, but a splinter group of about a dozen broke apart from the crowd around 9 p.m. and smashed store windows in Oakland's City Center. At the previous protest, rioters damaged businesses throughout downtown, from nail salons and braid shops to high-end restaurants and the recently restored Fox Theater.

Police intelligence indicates more protests will occur, Mayor Ron Dellums told the Chronicle.

The city has yet to decide on a company to provide the security guards, but the contract will be for 60 to 90 days. The city has also assigned more police to patrol the city's downtown area, the economic lifeblood of Oakland.

The city will also build a communications network to allow police, security guards, and merchants the ability to communicate with each other in real time.


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