OAKLAND — Several hundred people holding signs that read “The People Say Guilty!” and “Missouri, Palestine, Justice Now!” shut down a major highway and several streets in Oakland on Monday to protest a grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old.
More than 40 people were arrested for hurling bottles, breaking windows and setting small fires, Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement early Tuesday. No serious injuries were reported.
Quan said police officers showed “tremendous restraint” in the face of hundreds of demonstrators “provoking them for hours.”
Dozens of people got around police and ran onto the westbound lanes of Interstate 580, milling around cars, holding signs and raising their hands in the air. Officers in cars and on motorcycles corralled the protesters until they cleared the freeway and opened one lane to traffic. Minutes later, a large crowd jumped onto the eastbound lanes of I-580, again bringing traffic to a halt.
After officers cleared the highway, a few dozen protesters remained on a nearby street and peacefully sat around a fire they started with cardboard and trash until firefighters put it out.
A police car was spray-painted with graffiti and a bank window was broken as protesters marched through downtown Oakland, police said.
Shanna Serrano, 24, of San Jose said protesters took the freeway to “shut it down, gain that attention for Michael Brown.”
Hours earlier, the crowd, which grew to about 500 people, blocked the intersection of 14th Street and Broadway after a line of police officers in riot helmets stopped the first attempt to block the highway. After a few minutes of chanting “No justice, no peace! No racist police!” the crowd turned around and kept walking through the streets, while officers in cars and motorcycles followed them from a distance.
Some demonstrators lay on the ground while others outlined their bodies in chalk during a moment of silence in memory of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot to death by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo.
In San Francisco, a few dozen people in the Mission echoed the “No justice, no peace!” chants. In Sacramento, about 75 people marched through the streets and blocked traffic, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Farther south in California, a crowd of about 100 protesters gathered at Leimert Park in Los Angeles around a single speaker to listen to the announcement as it was broadcast from Ferguson.
City News Service reported that after midnight, about 100 police officers wearing riot gear fired foam projectiles into the ground to disperse about 50 protesters on Pico Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles.
A splinter group of about 30 people broke away and marched through surrounding streets, blocking intersections and chanting “Hands up, don't shoot” with their hands in the air.
The demonstrations statewide remained mostly small and peaceful as law enforcement and religious leaders had encouraged earlier in the day.