Police release photos of looters in protest

Oakland police today released photos of looters and rioters taken during last week's protest of the verdict in the Johannes Mehserle case and are asking for the public's help in identifying them.

Nearly 1,000 people gathered in downtown Oakland Thursday evening after the former BART police officer was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the shooting death of Oscar Grant III on Jan. 1, 2009.

The protest turned violent later that night, and 78 people were arrested after protesters smashed windows, looted stores, busted down doors and sprayed graffiti on storefronts.

No arrests have been made since then, but investigators are seeking a number of other suspects believed to have been involved in the looting and vandalism.

Police today published 15 photos on the department's website of some of the suspects. The majority of the photos were taken outside a Foot Locker shoe store and Sears store on Broadway.

The Foot Locker appeared to have been hit the hardest by looters, who broke into the store and stole shoes and other items.

“We want to send a message that this is not a playground to steal,” Oakland police Officer Jeff Thomason said.

Thomason said those who are identified will likely face charges of burglary, looting or theft.

Police are asking anyone who recognizes someone in a picture to call the Police Department's tip line at (510) 777-8814. A reward of up to $1,000 is being offered to anyone with information that leads to an arrest.

The pictures are available at http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/OPD/index.htm.

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