On the fourth day of ongoing Berkeley protests, demonstrators marched more than 10 miles through Berkeley and Oakland, momentarily blocking traffic on Highway 24 and eventually thinning out as some reportedly vandalized businesses.
Since Saturday, demonstrators have held protests in Berkeley in response to recent grand jury decisions related to the deaths of unarmed black men from police force. Tuesday night’s protest began as hundreds of protesters gathered outside Old City Hall at about 7:20 p.m. to address the mass arrests on the night before.
“This is real life,” said Tim McIntyre, a UC Berkeley junior. “This is a lot more important than finals.”
At about 9:30 p.m., about 100 protesters stopped traffic on Highway 24 — near the MacArthur BART station — in both directions for nearly half an hour. Police used less-than-lethal methods to try to force protesters off the highway, and several protesters were arrested, according to California Highway Patrol.
After abandoning the highway, the group of more than 500 protesters reached downtown Oakland.
While marching next to Interstate 980, a few protesters turned over an Oakland Police Department electronic speed-limit sign. Afterward, a couple of men shouted, “Don’t tear my neighborhood down.”
Thirty minutes later, a group of protesters flooded into Safeway, after doors were broken down. Soon after, a fight among them broke out in the parking lot. A few people donning black masks allegedly beat another man to the ground, arousing cries of “peaceful protests” and “let him go.”
As the march continued moving north on San Pablo Avenue into Emeryville, a group of protesters broke the windows of a 7-Eleven, Bank of America and CVS.
Initially the protest was scheduled to take place during Berkeley City Council’s regular Tuesday meeting, but due to concerns of potential overcrowding, Mayor Tom Bates canceled the meeting. Despite the cancelation, Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguin stood outside Old City Hall to listen to the concerns of protesters and community members.
“We are here tonight primarily to listen to you,” Worthington said to the crowd. “If there was a City Council meeting, every one of you would have the right to speak.”
Both council members said they stand in solidarity with demonstrators, who have been protesting alleged police brutality. Worthington and Arreguin said they will call for an investigation of Saturday night’s protest, during which a group of demonstrators encountered multiple rounds of tear gas on Telegraph Avenue.
Protesters who were arrested Monday night after marching onto interstates 80 and 580 spoke to the two council members, calling for protesters’ “charges to be dropped.” But Teresa Drenick, assistant district attorney, said that as of Tuesday afternoon, she had not received confirmation that charges would be filed. The district attorney is the one who brings charges against individuals.
More than 200 protesters were arrested Monday night at Interstate 80 near Powell Street in Emeryville on suspicion of various offenses — including resisting arrest, preventing the travel of others and assault on a peace officer — after hundreds swarmed onto the freeway, according to California Highway Patrol spokesperson Officer Daniel Hill.
Follow the path of the protest below.
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Senior staff writer Kimberly Veklerov and staff writer Jessie Lau contributed to this report.
Bo Kovitz is a news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @beau_etc.