Dec 9, 2014 10:11 PM

223 arrested in third night of California protests

The Associated Press

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) The California Highway Patrol will deploy 80 percent off its available staff to monitor a protest planned for Tuesday night in Berkeley, an official said.

Ernie Sanchez, assistant chief of the CHP's Golden Gate Division, said the agency will also ask the Alameda County district attorney's office to increase bails and charges, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Sanchez said the CHP plans to increase staffing and enforcement on East Bay freeways Tuesday night after a crowd of about 1,500 blocked all lanes of Interstate 80 for more than an hour Monday night in Berkeley.

Protesters blocked traffic on both sides of Interstate 80, while another group stood and sat on train tracks, temporarily forcing an Amtrak train to stop Monday night.

The California Highway Patrol said a large group of demonstrators destroyed highway perimeter fencing, flooded lanes and threw rocks and other objects at officers. It took about an hour and a half to clear the interstate, and no major injuries were reported.

The agency arrested 223 people on suspicion of resisting arrest, obstructing police and other charges, said Ernie Sanchez, assistant chief of the CHP's Golden Gate Division.

A woman stuck in traffic went into labor during the protest, but fire crews were able to get her to a hospital, KPIX-TV reported.

"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."

The Berkeley Police Department arrested an additional nine people, including a juvenile, Officer Jennifer Coats said early Tuesday. She described the latest protests as mostly peaceful, with no injuries and no reports of looting or damaged property. Police estimated the crowd at about 1,500 people.

The protesters began peacefully marching Monday through downtown Berkeley. The first stop for demonstrators shouting, "Who do you protect? Peaceful protest" was the Police Department, where a line of officers in riot gear blocked them from getting close to the building. The group then headed to a Bay Area Rapid Transit train station and sat outside, prompting authorities to shut down the station briefly.

But as the night went on, the protesters divided into smaller groups who disrupted traffic and train passengers.

"The cops need to know, the world needs to know, people of color are subjected to a brutal police state every day," Berkeley resident Johnny Nguyen told the Oakland Tribune ( ) on Monday evening.

Although many activists in other parts of the country have gone home, protests in Berkeley and Oakland are still active, reflecting the area's long history of protest dating to the 1960s.

The protests started after a grand jury on Nov. 24 declined decision to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. A New York grand jury on Dec. 3 declined to prosecute a police officer captured on video applying a fatal chokehold on Eric Garner. That decision set off more demonstrations nationwide.

Oakland police have arrested about 200 people since the protests started.


Associated Press writers Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


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