Police use tear gas on Berkeley protesters – SFGate

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Police used tear gas late Saturday night to break up an evening-long protest by demonstrators again marching against recent incidents of police violence against blacks.

The episode was the culmination of a noisy, rowdy night of action through Berkeley. After more than five hours of marching and confrontations, about 400 protesters and students squared off against hundreds of Bay Area police gathered at the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Durant Street.

After warning the crowd of vocal, but mostly non-violent protesters, officers fired tear gas, sending people fleeing in panic and pain.

It wasn’t just protesters who were gassed.

Minutes before the police dispersed the crowd at about 10:30, several concerts had let out downtown. Well-dressed concertgoers waiting to pay in a nearby garage were enveloped in a cloud of stinging gas, sending them running into elevators.

“I’m not sure that’s necessary,” said Elaine Dunlap, 74, who had just attended a Paul Dresher concert at Zellerbach Playhouse. “I think people have a right to protest, certainly for an issue as big as this.”

She was sitting with her husband, Greg, tears streaming down their faces.

“I’ve never experienced that and I’m an old hippie,” she said.

Hundreds of protesters marched through Berkeley Saturday night, chanting, tossing bottles and smashing windows as police tried to control the violence.

Organizers had planned a peaceful march, but windows were broken and wine bottles smashed at a Trader Joe’s store near Martin Luther King and University Avenue, while masked looters broke into a Radio Shack store and grabbed merchandise.

At about 7 p.m., the Berkeley BART Station was shut down by the disturbances, with the North Berkeley station closed an hour later.

At Delaware Street and San Pablo Avenue about 7:30 p.m., the marchers were face-to-face with a line of about 100 police in riot gear who turned the crowd back toward the campus.

“You’re f—ing cowards,” screamed one skateboard-carrying young man, his face hidden by a black bandanna. “You don’t represent us,” a woman shouted at police.

“This is supposed to be about stopping violence,” said Francesca Rivera of Berkeley, who was marching with the protesters. “There seem to be a number of very young people who don’t how to channel their violence.”

The march began peacefully at 5 p.m. at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza, but the protesters were soon joined by groups of black-masked demonstrators looking for trouble, onlookers said. The demonstrators walked to Berkeley police headquarters and then scuffled with a skirmish line of officers trying to keep marchers from heading down University Avenue toward Interstate 80.

As protesters approached the highway, a line of police blocked the on-ramp.

Scott Bishop Falcone, a UC Berkeley graduate student, came out to protest. “Out of the houses and into the streets,” he yelled as he passed his home on University Avenue, hoping his neighbors would join.

Demonstrators in the Bay Area have been taking to the streets and freeways, disrupting transit, staging die-ins and, in some cases, vandalizing businesses since the Staten Island grand jury’s decision in the Eric Garner case Wednesday.

The grand jury decided not to indict New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was captured on a cell phone video putting Garner, suspected of illegally selling loose cigarettes, in a hold that a medical examiner said contributed to the man’s death.

That decision followed the Missouri grand jury’s decision on Nov. 24 not to indict a white officer in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old suspected of robbing a store.

Many of the Berkeley protesters were hoping to avoid the violence and vandalism that has plagued other demonstrations.

“Peacefully, nonviolently, we are here to talk justice,” said one of the demonstrators, Moni Law of Berkeley, who as a black mother of a son feels especially close to the events.

Protester Kelly Osajima, 24, of Emeryville said she had to speak out because “black lives matter. … How can I stand by while this is happening?” she said.

The Berkeley demonstration followed a rally earlier Saturday in San Francisco where more than 100 demonstrators gathered on Market Street in front of the Westfield San Francisco Centre, disrupting the bustling holiday shopping scene.

Police arrested at least a dozen demonstrators holding up signs in the middle of Market Street and stopping traffic, with some onlookers and fellow protesters booing and yelling “Shame!”

Chronicle staff writer Victoria Colliver contributed to this report.

Hamed Aleaziz, Greta Kaul and Evan Sernoffsky are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. E-mail: [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] Twitter: @haleaziz, @gretakaul and @evansernoffsky

Source Article from http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Protesters-march-again-in-S-F-and-Berkeley-5940498.php


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