Eric Garner protests turn violent in Northern California
December 9, 2014
Bay Area protests have turned violent, and they led to more than 150 arrests on Monday night as unrest spreads in response to the decision of a New York grand jury not to indict a police officer for allegedly strangling to death a man he was trying to arrest. [Reuters]
On July 17, 43-year-old Eric Garner died after succumbing to injuries sustained during a chokehold placed on him by Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Last week, the Staten Island Grand Jury chose not to indict Pantaleo, which sparked nationwide protests in similar fashion to the announcement of a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict an officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
In both instances, the man who died was black and the officer involved in the fatality was white. Racially charged protests have since spread rapidly in California, particularly in the Eastern Bay Area.
Protesters in Berkeley stormed onto Interstate 80 Monday night and blocked traffic in both directions. Earlier in the day, dozens of protesters stopped an Amtrak train by lying on the tracks or sitting on a sofa placed in the path of the train.
Most of the more than 150 arrests occurred as a result of demonstrators resisting or obstructing officers.
On Sunday night, protesters in both Berkeley and Oakland threw bottles, rocks and Molotov cocktails at police. Officers responded with rubber bullets, flares and tear gas.
One protester smashed the window of a Radio Shack and looting ensued. Others tried to set fire to police cars.
On Friday, the protests in response to the Missouri and New York grand jury decisions reached San Luis Obispo, although not in violent fashion. A group of about 40 people marched through San Luis Obispo Friday night holding signs and chanting slogans, like “hands up don’t shoot” and “black lives matter too.”
Two days prior, the Tribune published an op-ed penned by San Luis Obispo Police Chief Steve Gesell supporting Officer Darren Wilson, the policeman exonerated in the Missouri case. Gesell’s op-ed criticized those who claim Brown lost his life because of his race and condemned citizens who disrespect the law and law enforcement.
The Tribune published the piece on the same day the New York grand jury announced its decision in the Garner case. Gesell’s op-ed spurred a slew of criticism from San Luis Obispo County residents, while others came to his defense.