Protests over NY grand jury decision take place in SF, Oakland

Jeff Chiu/AP PhotoA protesters raises his arms as California Highway Patrol Officers stand in front of him as protesters block traffic on Highway 80 in Berkeley

Protests took place in San Francisco and Oakland Wednesday evening in response to a New York grand jury's decision not to indict a New York City police officer in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died while in a police chokehold restraint.

In San Francisco, protestors blocked Market Street at Powell Street and staged a “die-in” near the Powell Street cable car turnaround.

In Oakland, hundreds of protesters gathered near the corner of 14th Street and Broadway at about 5 p.m., chanting “Justice for

Eric Garner,” only about 10 days after massive protests in the city began over a similar grand jury decision in Ferguson, Mo.

In the Missouri case, a grand jury chose not to indict police Officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing 18-year-old Michael Brown in August.

In the New York case, a grand jury Wednesday declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for using a chokehold that led to Garner's death.

San Francisco protesters gathered on Market Street near the cable car turnaround, temporarily blocking traffic.

In Oakland, protestors marched down Broadway and were stopped by a line of officers in riot gear before reaching police

headquarters. They then moved through downtown, with smaller marches converging on the main protest, and into the Piedmont business district area.

Some protesters held signs that read “I can't breathe,” evoking Garner's words as he was choked by Pantaleo. Garner's arrest and death were captured on video.

“We got a lot of issues we need to handle. They're killing us and it's not just black people it's all people of color, ” Satima Flaherty, 27, said to the gathered crowd. “They're killing us back to back and they're laughing at us — it's a mockery.”

Protests have been held nationwide since Brown's death against the use of lethal force by police officers, particularly against black men.

Similar protests went on for three days last week following the Missouri grand jury's decision. About 2,000 people participated on Monday with smaller crowds gathering on Tuesday and Wednesday. Oakland police made a total of 169 arrests as freeways were blocked, fires were set, windows were broken and businesses were looted. A Black Friday event in San Francisco resulted in the arrest of 79 people and five police officers were injured, according to Police Chief Greg Suhr.

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee issued a statement Wednesday expressing outrage at the grand jury's verdict and calling on the U.S. Justice Department to investigate.

“We cannot allow the senseless murders of black men to continue,” Lee said. “These tragedies have been happening for many years,” she said.

“But the recent high profile cases of injustice for the families of Eric Garner and Michael Brown have and should spark a national debate and long overdue action to address the structural and institutional racial biases in our nation.”

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