California protesters march for 4th straight night
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) – Hundreds of protesters angered at the killing of unarmed black men by white police officers marched through downtown Berkeley streets for a fourth straight night, briefly blocking traffic on a highway and delaying metro and train services.
Demonstration were planned Wednesday, with organizers saying they expect hundreds of people to come out and help shut down a federal building in Oakland.
“As white people, we are outraged by the constant and ongoing violations against black people’s lives from Ferguson to Oakland to San Francisco to Cleveland to Staten Island,” said Jason Wallach of Showing Up for Racial Justice.
Organizers said the “act of civil disobedience” will happen in at least 27 cities nationwide.
In Berkeley, authorities arrested at least 19 people Tuesday night. City police arrested five adults and one juvenile, and the California Highway Patrol apprehended an additional 13. The protests became sporadically destructive over several hours, the San Francisco Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/12MBzLq ).
Protesters have rallied for weeks following grand jury decisions not to indict a Ferguson, Missouri, officer in the killing of Michael Brown and a New York City officer captured on video applying a fatal chokehold on Eric Garner.
Berkeley has been the center of San Francisco Bay Area protests this week, and demonstrators have made claims that police have used excessive force.
Mayor Tom Bates said some people have voiced support for police amid the criticism. He said in a statement Tuesday that 20 officers were injured Monday night and two went to the hospital during a violent protest when people threw fist-sized rocks, bricks and metal bars at officers who moved to disperse crowds that blocked an interstate and halted an Amtrak train.
“I recognize that under great stress abuses can occur in even the best departments,” Bates said in the statement. “I support a full review of our response to investigate any improper use of force and also to learn lessons we can apply in the future.”
He canceled a scheduled Berkeley City Council meeting Tuesday night after threats to disrupt it. Protesters still stopped at City Hall, where a city councilman addressed the crowd and said he will ask for an investigation into the police response to the protests.
The crowd, which was much smaller than the one Monday, briefly shut down Highway 24, which connects Berkeley to Oakland. Two Bay Area Rapid Transit stations were closed as a precaution.
The more than 230 people arrested Monday night would face bails of up to $50,000, and many remain in custody, said Ernie Sanchez, assistant chief of the CHP’s Golden Gate Division.
“The CHP respects the public’s right to gather and demonstrate, but it needs to be done in a safe manner,” Sanchez said. “At this point, they’ve made their statement, and we respect that. Now we’re asking them to stop.”