Related Stories

OAKLAND -- An Oakland youth radio station covering the George Zimmerman trial and verdict is one of the many businesses that fell victim to vandalism Monday during the third day of protests in the city.

The crowd of several hundred were protesting Saturday's acquittal of Zimmerman in Florida, leaving damage in their wake. During the protesters' marches, more than a dozen businesses were vandalized, including Youth Radio on Broadway.

"Youth Radio is seen as a community institution that Oaklanders are proud of, so we were surprised our windows were broken," said Richard Raya, executive director of Youth Radio. "It makes you wonder if the folks who did it really know about Oakland."

Youth Radio, which works with young people ages 18 to 24, has been around for 20 years. The purpose of the station is to prepare youths for college and for a career using digital media skills. Youths at the station have been out in the field following the protests and interviewing people, as well as working on commentaries, perspectives and op-ed pieces on the Zimmerman trial.

Denise Tejada, multimedia assistant producer, began working at the radio station when she was a sophomore in high school. Now 24, Tejada primarily works with youth reporters in producing multimedia stories for local and national outlets.

Tejada said she agrees with one of her students who said if people knew what Youth Radio does for young people, they wouldn't have vandalized the station.

"Our main goal is to make sure there is an outlet for people to express themselves, but not by smashing windows," Tejada added. "We're going to continue getting the voices of young people out, and this is not going to stop us from doing that."

Raya said when he arrived at the station late last night to clean up the mess from the three broken windows, there was a small crowd of people gathered who were also in shock that the radio station had been hit.

Issa Eismont, manager of Dogwood bar, was one of the people who helped Raya and three other Youth Radio staff clean up the mess from the broken windows. Eismont said he and other bar employees yelled at protesters who were smashing Youth Radio windows.

"Yeah, way to go. Nonprofit radio for underprivileged is really the enemy," Eismont said sarcastically. "Everybody is just struggling to get by, trying to revitalize Oakland and make it a vibrant place to be. This is shameful and makes Oakland look really bad."

Although the station will have to replace the thick, soundproof windows that were broken, which Raya estimates to be very expensive, he said the station will continue its focus on reporting moving forward.

"I think the George Zimmerman verdict is something we all need to reflect upon as a nation, and that's what we're focused on here in the newsroom," Raya said. "The vandals are just a small part of that larger discussion that we're having."