Empty liquor bottles, police killing mark start of New Year
By Tim Jue / Beat Staff Writer
Hundreds of thousands of New Year’s revelers flocked to celebration sites around the Bay Area on New Year’s Eve to bid adieu to a dismal 2008 and welcome what everyone hopes will be a much better 2009. At the region’s largest celebration along the Embarcadero in San Francisco, celebrants were treated to a fireworks show that, at times, was subdued because of a low-lying fog ceiling that threatened to obscure the pyrotechnics.
But — fog or no fog — a mostly orderly crowd kept the energy level high. The event was proclaimed as the city’s official New Year’s celebration. Organizers said that there would be no alcohol and public drunkeness would not be tolerated. San Francisco Police were out in force Wednesday evening with full patrols along the Embarcadero and clusters of cops positioned all along Justin Herman Plaza.
But a California Beat observation noted thousands of empty alcohol bottles and containers littering many parts of the area. As crowds dissapated after the fireworks, they were stepping on empty booze bottles and kicking them all around the street. The pungent odor of marijuana was prevalent and public drunkeness was ripe.
Across the bay in Oakland, violence erupted after one man was killed by BART Police officers who opened fire on him at the Fruitvale BART station at around 2:15 a.m. as revelers were returning from the city’s fireworks celebration and other events around the bay.
Witnesses said that Hayward resident Oscar Grant, 22, was cuffed and detained on the ground when a BART Police officer fired a single shot that mortally wounded the man. The transit agency refuted the accounts, saying that Grant was not in cuffs when he was shot.
Still, no weapon was found on him. He was transported to Highland Hospital in Oakland where he died.
KTVU, the FOX television station in Oakland, reported that BART Police officers confiscated numerous video capturing devices from the victim’s friends that contained footage of the shooting incident.
A BART spokesperson said that video surveillance cameras set up in the rail station had no video recording capabilities and could only be viewed in real time.