Tuesday Morning News Roundup
Protesters Arrested After Announcement In Grand Jury Decision On Fatal Missouri Shooting
Oakland police have made numerous arrests Monday night in a protest that started in the downtown area and continued to Interstate Highway 580 following a grand jury’s decision to not indict a police officer in a fatal Missouri shooting.
About 1,000 people have gathered in the downtown area Monday night in response to the grand jury’s decision announced around 6:30 p.m. in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.
St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch made the announcement stating that the jury composed of 12 people determined there was no probable cause to charge Wilson after reviewing hours of witness accounts and law enforcement interviews and examining evidence in the case for the past three months.
One person was arrested for vandalizing a police car and many other arrests were made on the freeway, city officials said.
The protesters started gathering at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza at 14th Street and Broadway earlier in the evening before the announcement chanting, “The whole damn system is guilty as hell. Indict, convict, send the killer cop to jail.”
An estimated 400 to 500 people had gathered at the intersection around 6 p.m., city officials said.
After the decision was announced, a large crowd continued to march up Broadway, walked through Chinatown and headed east on Seventh Street.
Protesters attempted to enter Interstate Highway 880 from Seventh and Jackson Streets only to be blocked by police and made their way back to 14th Street and Broadway.
Shortly after 7 p.m., protesters were seen on top of an unmarked police car and spray-painted it at Seventh and Jackson streets.
Dozens of police officers were seen following the marching crowd, some in protective riot gear, as they walked on Broadway to Grand Avenue.
Along the way they broke a window at a Chase Bank at 20th and Webster streets.
While chanting “Justice for Michael Brown,” protesters were also setting off fireworks, vandalizing, setting garbage cans on fire and spray-painting on buildings during the march.
The crowd entered the freeway at MacArthur Boulevard prompting the California Highway Patrol to issue a Sig-alert at 8:36 p.m. for traffic stopped on eastbound and westbound Highway 580.
Hundreds of protesters walked on westbound lanes where CHP officers and vehicles assembled in a line.
About two dozen people were seen climbing over the center divide to eastbound lanes where officers were chasing them down.
CHP officials advised motorists to take state Highway 24 and Interstate Highway 880 to avoid delays.
Around 9 p.m., cars were seen traveling on eastbound lanes and protesters were being cleared on westbound lanes, where traffic was at a halt.
About half an hour later, traffic on eastbound Highway 580 was being diverted to Interstate Highway 980 and state Highway 24 while westbound lanes were closed at Park Boulevard, according to CHP officials.
Shortly before 11 p.m., both directions of Highway 580 were in process of being reopened, CHP officials said.
The intersections of 14th Street at Broadway and Seventh and Jackson streets were briefly blocked off between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., police said.
At about 10:40 p.m., protesters holding signs were seen in the area of 14th Street and Broadway near Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Dogwood, a bar located at 1664 Telegraph Ave. and about two blocks away from the plaza, was boarded up in preparation for protesters who may damage the business.
In a statement Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said, “My heart continues to go out to Michael Brown’s family and community. I am beyond disappointed in today’s verdict. Like everyone in our community, I am devastated by the senseless murder of yet another black man.”
“I urge protestors to be peaceful and for the police to respect people exercising their First Amendment rights,” Lee said.
25-Year-Old Man Shot In Bayview’s Alice Griffith Housing Complex Friday
Police are investigating a shooting that injured a 25-year-old man at the Alice Griffith public housing complex in San Francisco’s Bayview District on Friday afternoon.
The shooting was reported just after 4:20 p.m. in the 1000 block of Fitzgerald Avenue near Griffith Street, police said Monday.
Based on the preliminary police investigation, officers said the victim reported hearing a gunshot right before he was shot in his upper body.
The male suspect fled the area before emergency crews arrived.
The victim was transported to San Francisco General Hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening, according to police.
The suspect has not been identified and the motive for the shooting remains under investigation.
Anyone with information about the suspect or anyone who witnessed the shooting is urged to contact police at (415) 553-0123 or may submit a tip anonymously by texting a tip to TIP411 with “SFPD” in the text field, followed by the message.
Pair Arrested After Allegedly Pistol-Whipping Couple In Home Invasion
Two young men were arrested on Sunday after allegedly pistol-whipping a couple in a home invasion and attempted robbery in Antioch, a police lieutenant said Monday.
The two armed suspects allegedly entered a home in the 600 block of Faria Street around 3:15 p.m. Sunday, pistol-whipped a man and woman and attempted to rob them, Antioch police Lt. Tony Morefield said.
Officers were later able to locate the suspects’ vehicle near the intersection of Sycamore Drive and Lemontree Way. Two people fled from the car while two others suspected of committing the home invasion remained in the vehicle and were taken into custody, Morefield said.
The lieutenant said the two suspects, identified as 21-year-old Dakarai Lewis of Oakley and 19-year-old Armon Mason of Richmond, were arrested on suspicion of armed robbery, assault and gun crimes.
Neither of the victims in the home invasion were seriously injured, Morefield said.
Supes Set To Vote On Living Wage For In-Home Health Care Workers And Others
The Marin County Board of Supervisors is poised to approve a “living wage” increase to 1,500 in-home health care workers and 180 other county employees starting Jan. 1.
The 180 workers include library aides, library technology aides, seasonal firefighters and service workers.
Under the ordinance set for a public hearing and final vote today, workers with benefits who now earn $10.50 per hour will receive $11.40 an hour, and workers without benefits who now earn $12.10 an hour will get $13 an hour.
Employees of contractors and subcontractors who have more than $25,000 of annual business with the county also will receive the living wage.
The total fiscal impact to the county government is $1.1 million annually.
The pay rate for in-home supportive services workers will be the best in California, although Santa Clara County is anticipating a cost-of-living adjustment to $13 an hour in February 2015, Deputy County Administrator Daniel Ellerman said.
Fire Crews Rescue Cat From Light Pole
Fire crews in Livermore took part in an unusual rescue Monday after a cat was found stuck in a light pole, a battalion chief said.
Workers at construction contracting company in the 2000 block of Research Drive called authorities around 7:25 a.m. after they found the animal stuck in an uninstalled light pole lying on the ground, Livermore-Pleasanton fire Battalion Chief Joe Testa said.
Fire crews arriving on the scene found the cat stuck in the narrowest part of the pole unable to move its limbs.
After trying unsuccessfully for more than an hour to move the cat back to a wider part of the pole, workers used a metal cutting saw to cut the pipe just below the cat and firefighters were able to pull it from the pipe, Testa said.
“The cat appeared tattered and fatigued, but was awake, moving all limbs and still had some fight left that provided a good test for the thick leather firefighting gloves,” the battalion chief said in a statement.
The cat was later taken to the East County Animal Shelter in Dublin where personnel were unable to find a microchip or any other identifying information.
Testa said the cat appears to be feral and that at least one person has already offered to adopt it.
Search Suspended For Missing Surfer Off Of Rockaway Beach
A search has been suspended for a surfer reported missing in the water by a Pacifica beach on Sunday, U.S. Coast Guard officials announced Monday.
Personnel from Coast Guard Sector San Francisco responded to a report of a surfer facing down in the water about 100 yards away from Rockaway Beach shortly before 5 p.m. Sunday.
A helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco and a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Coast Guard Station Golden Gate responded to the scene.
Pacifica firefighters saw a person in a black wetsuit facing down in the water about 100 yards out from the shore but lost sight of the person roughly 10 minutes later, Coast Guard officials said.
A surfboard found later in the area did not have information on its owner, according to Coast Guard officials.
A self-locating data marker buoy was deployed by Coast Guard crews, providing them with information on ocean currents near the beach to indicate where the surfer may have drifted, Coast Guard officials said.
The buoy continued to float through the ocean through an 18-square-mile area until the search was suspended shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday, according to Coast Guard officials.
Crews from South San Francisco fire and Daly City police assisted during the search by setting up an incident command post and looking for the person while on shore.
People are advised to mark any recreational property with personal contact information that could aid emergency responders in the event of an emergency, Coast Guard officials said.
Judge Orders Carpenter To Stand Trial For Death Of Tattoo Artist
A judge ruled Monday that prosecutors produced sufficient evidence to have a carpenter stand trial on a murder charge for the fatal shooting of a tattoo artist in East Oakland four years ago.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner made his ruling at the end of a short preliminary hearing for 37-year-old Michael R. Smith for the death of 45-year-old Montago Bey Joshua of Hayward.
Oakland police said Joshua was shot in the 1000 block of MacArthur Boulevard at about 11:30 a.m. on July 30, 2010, and was pronounced dead at Highland Hospital about 40 minutes later.
Smith remained at large for nearly four years but was arrested and charged in March.
Smith’s attorney, Mario Andrews, argued Monday that Smith should only stand trial on the lesser charge of manslaughter because there was evidence that Joshua and other members of the Wild Bunch motorcycle club in East Oakland had provoked Smith by threatening him.
Andrews referred to testimony by Joshua’s long-time girlfriend, Natasha Smith, that she had seen Joshua and other members of the motorcycle club threaten Michael Smith, who isn’t related to her.
Natasha Smith, who said she’d been in a relationship with Joshua for 12 years and lived with him the last five years of his life, testified that Michael Smith had been a member of the Wild Bunch but he had left the group, although she didn’t know why.
Andrews also said Joshua had a history of having guns and at the time he was shot he appeared to be reaching into his pocket as if he were reaching for a gun.
But prosecutor Mark Bennett said there’s no evidence that Joshua was armed at the time of the shooting and he believes that the reason Joshua was reaching into his pocket was simply to pull out a cigarette he had just rolled.
Bennett also said there’s evidence that Smith had premeditated the shooting because witnesses said Smith had said he would kill Joshua the next time he saw him.
Bennett said he doesn’t think the lesser charge of manslaughter would be appropriate for Smith because any threats that Joshua and other members of the motorcycle club may have made against Smith had occurred many months before the fatal shooting so there was plenty of time for Smith to cool down.
Smith, who is being held in custody without bail, is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 10 to have a trial date set.
Petaluma Records 20th Transient Death Since January 2010
The death of a Petaluma man Sunday was the 20th death of a transient person in Petaluma since January 2010, a police sergeant said Monday.
The cause of death of 63-year-old Leonard Smith, whose body was found at a popular fishing spot along the Petaluma River, is pending an autopsy this week, but nothing indicates a violent death, Sgt. Ed Crosby said.
“There are various causes of (transient) death and the bodies were found at various locations in the city,” Crosby said.
Of the 19 homeless deaths before Sunday, seven were from natural causes, four were suicides, two were accidental overdoses on alcohol or drugs, three were of undetermined cause and one was from drowning. The cause of two homeless persons’ deaths are still pending.
The average age of a deceased homeless person was 49.4 years, Crosby said.
“We ‘never say never’ when it comes to homicide, we always keep an open mind regarding information that comes our way, but thus far there is no consistent pattern to suggest a serial killer is afoot or that transients are dying in unusual ways or numbers,” Crosby said.
Alcohol and drug abuse have played a part in many of the transient deaths and in some cases outright caused the deaths, Crosby said.
“It’s also worthy to note that even among those with homes, I found many decedents had chronic health problems brought on or exacerbated by substance and alcohol abuse,” Crosby said.
“Living or being outdoors for extended periods of time coupled with substance / alcohol abuse can become a life-threatening combination,” Crosby said.
There have been 238 death investigations in Petaluma between January 2010 and October this year. Homeless people were involved in 8 percent of the death investigations.
The percentage of homeless deaths ranged between 7.1 percent in January 2010 and 13.6 percent this year so far, according to figures supplied by Crosby.
Homeless people were nearly three times as likely to die by suicide, and the homeless accounted for four of the 21 suicides, all by hanging, since January 2010, Crosby said.
Petaluma had three firearm-related homicides and two vehicular manslaughters since January 2010.
Coalition Of Residents Plan To Draft Initiative To Limit Home-Sharing Platforms
A crowd of people gathered outside Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood Monday morning to announce their plans to draft an initiative that would require the home-sharing platform to pay alleged back-taxes owed to the city and create regulations limiting the number of nights a residence can be offered as a short-term rental.
A coalition comprised of citizens and community groups stood outside the Airbnb offices Monday morning armed with signs.
The members of the coalition yelled into the megaphone, demanding the company, which matches people looking for a place to crash to those with an extra room or extra house, to pay the more than $25 million in back taxes allegedly owed to the city of San Francisco dating back to 2012.
The coalition, whose members maintain that they are fighting for affordable housing in the city, also proposed additional regulations for short-term residential rentals, which it plans to submit to voters in the November 2015 election.
Monday’s announcement of the draft ballot initiative comes less than a month after San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed the Board of Supervisors-approved Short-Term Residential Rentals Ordinance.
The ordinance created procedures for users of home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb and Vacation Rentals By Owner, also known as VRBO, to use a registry administered by the Planning Department to track short-term residential rentals and to pay an application fee for the registry.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, the chief sponsor of the ordinance, said the legislation “protects our housing from hotel conversion” while still allowing residents who live in their homes for at least three-quarters of the year and have liability insurance to rent out property on a limited basis to help supplement their housing costs.
But members of the coalition who are drafting the new initiative said Monday that the ordinance passed last month doesn’t do enough to protect San Franciscans who are struggling to afford the city’s high cost of living.
Douglas Engmann, former member of the San Francisco Planning Commission and the current president of Engmann Options Inc., a San Francisco private investment, securities consulting and real estate firm, is among the members of the coalition who said that enforcement of the new ordinance is near-impossible because the San Francisco Planning Department wasn’t given the resources to enforce the legislation.
Air District Issues Second ‘Winter Spare The Air Day’ For Tuesday
Bay Area residents will be banned from burning firewood and other solid fuels during the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s second Spare the Air alert of the season today.
During the 24-hour “Winter Spare the Air Alert,” residents throughout the region will be barred from using fireplaces, woodstoves, outdoor fire pits or other wood-burning devices as stagnant weather conditions are expected to cause unhealthy levels of air pollution.
Air district officials say that wood smoke, like cigarette smoke, contain carcinogenic substances that make the air hazardous to breathe.
“Wood smoke is a serious public health problem for residents of the Bay Area,” air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a prepared statement.
“One fireplace burning in a neighborhood is like one person smoking on an airplane — everyone is impacted,” he said.
Anyone caught violating a Spare the Air alert for the first time will be given the choice of taking a wood smoke awareness class in lieu of a $100 fine.
Second-time offenders will receive a $500 ticket, and subsequent ticket amounts will be higher.
The public is asked to check before burning during the Winter Spare the Air season, from Nov. 1 to Feb. 28.
The daily burn status can be found at www.baaqmd.gov, at www.sparetheair.org or by calling the air district’s hotline at (877)-4-NO-BURN.
The public is also encouraged to sign up for AirAlerts at www.sparetheair.org or phone alerts at (800) 430-1515 or to download Spare the Air iPhone or Android apps.
Police Investigate Death Of Homeless Man In FiDi As Suspicious
San Francisco police said the death of a man whose body was located in an alley in San Francisco’s Financial District on Monday morning in being investigated as foul play.
San Francisco police spokesman Albie Esparza said the department’s homicide unit is investigating the death as suspicious, did not say what injuries the man suffered.
San Francisco fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said a 911 call came in from someone who unsuccessfully attempted to rouse a man in an alley tucked behind buildings near the intersection of Montgomery and Sutter streets shortly before 7:30 a.m.
Emergency crews arrived at Trinity Place near Hardie Place where the man’s body was located and declared him deceased, Talmadge said.
She said the man appears to have been a homeless individual and that the cause of his death was not immediately known.