January 9, 2009 / 12:36 AM / in 10 years

CORRECTED - Oakland, Calif. firms close early after Wed. riot

(Corrects date)

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Clorox Corp (CLX.N) and other businesses in Oakland, California, were sending employees home early on Thursday due to fears of more violence in the wake of a recent fatal police shooting of an unarmed man.

A receptionist at Clorox told Reuters by telephone that employees had been told to leave the company’s offices before 3 p.m. PST (2300 GMT). The Oakland Tribune reported other businesses in the city also let employees go home early.

Oakland police arrested more than 100 people on Wednesday night, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, after an appeal to protesters for calm and to disperse by Mayor Ron Dellums failed, resulting in small riot in the city’s downtown area. Storefronts and several cars were damaged.

Oakland, California’s eighth-largest city with 400,000 residents, is a major port and regional hub. It has a history of racial tension.

Demonstrators were protesting the killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant of Hayward, California on New Year’s Day at an Oakland railway station by a railway police officer, Johannes Mehserle.

Grant was detained by railway police after a scuffle between two groups of young men. Videos recorded by bystanders now circulating on the Internet show Mehserle shooting Grant, who appeared to be face down on a railway platform.

Investigations are under way into the shooting. Mehserle resigned on Wednesday from the police force of the Bay Area Rapid Transit railway.

Mehserle is white and Grant black, prompting one demonstrator on Wednesday night to cast the shooting and its protest in racial terms.

“I feel like the night is going great,” demonstrator Nia Sykes, 24, of San Francisco told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I feel like Oakland should make some noise. This is how we need to fight back. It’s for the murder of a black male.” (Reporting by Jennifer Martinez; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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