What happened at Oakland’s Magnolia Wellness during the final weekend of May was not the result of a protest run amok.
Yes, many businesses near the heart of the action suffered broken windows and fell prey to looters as fury over the police killing of George Floyd reached a boiling point. However, the crime spree that’s now touched seemingly every Bay Area dispensary was not the inadvertent result of a riot or a small-scale effort to make off with a souvenir.
Instead, according to Magnolia Wellness executive director Debby Goldsberry, 20 men armed with guns paid her store an after-hours visit on Saturday, May 30, and left with everything they could take.
“Little did we know,” Goldsberry told SFGATE by phone, “that on Friday night, the 29th, five dispensaries had armed robberies. Nobody notified us that five dispensaries had been robbed. The city didn’t warn us. The police didn’t warn us. We didn’t know, so Magnolia didn’t even know to be prepared.”
California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) regulations allow for licensed retailers to move their cannabis in emergency situations.
Had Oakland Police Department notified Magnolia and their peers of the crimes that took place on Friday, May 29, it would have given them 24 hours to safely remove assets, board-up their windows, and be prepared. (OPD did not respond to requests for comment.)
Instead, Magnolia was hit by robbers on both Saturday and Sunday.
Goldsberry, however, isn’t interested in a pound of flesh. To the contrary, she emphasizes the importance of contextualizing petty looting and organized robberies as symptoms of the same systemic injustice.
“People are protesting inequalities, a lack of opportunities, the unfairness of racism and, of course, the police murdering black people in our streets right before our eyes. People who are in gangs and committing crimes are doing so for the same reasons. In our opinion, whether it’s protesters or robbers, the underlying issues are the same: racism, lack of opportunity inequality, police brutality. That part we get and we think it’s important to point that out too.”