Seventy-nine people were arrested and five police officers were injured in San Francisco on Friday night during a demonstration held in reaction to the grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., for the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager, Police Chief Greg Suhr said Monday.
Suhr said a group of demonstrators began assembling at about 5 p.m. on Friday at Justin Herman Plaza near the Ferry Building, while another group gathered at about the same time in the center of Union Square prior to the Macy's tree-lighting ceremony.
Suhr said the group at Justin Herman Plaza started marching up Market Street to Union Square, facilitated by police officers.
But when the demonstrators who had arrived from Justin Herman Plaza reached the southeast corner of Union Square, they attempted to break through a barricade and then through a line of police officers, Suhr said.
While officers in riot gear were able to stop the protesters from reaching the tree-lighting ceremony, some of the protesters began throwing rocks and bottles at the officers, according to Suhr.
When demonstrators began smashing windows, many of the bystanders in the area began running away from them, screaming.
Of the 79 arrested, 23 were San Francisco residents and 21 were Oakland residents.
Four of those arrested were booked on felony charges, Suhr said.
Suhr said the conduct at Friday's protest was criminal and conducted by a “fringe element” that he said appears to embed themselves in peaceful protests before acting out.
He said officers exercised great restraint on Friday.