Oakland, California (CNN) — Hundreds of rioters stormed the streets of downtown Oakland on Thursday night after a verdict in the trial of a white former police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man, authorities said.
Johannes Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Thursday, a conviction that carries a maximum four-year-sentence.
But some in Oakland expected a tougher penalty for the former police officer, and took to the streets in protest.
Rioters broke the glass of a Foot Locker and other stores. others threw sneakers out of the store as police wearing gas masks stormed the area.
Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said there were 50 arrests and he expected the number to double by the end of the night.
At the high point of the riots about 8 p.m. (11 p.m. ET), there were an estimated 800 people in the streets, Batts said.
The riots seemed to be contained to the downtown area, police said.
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums downplayed the demonstrations.
“People were preparing for everything to explode, but I am extremely happy that so far it has not, and I hope that it doesn’t,” Dellums said. “We’re not going to tear our own community apart, because we’ve got issues that we’ve got to deal with.”