SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — An initially peaceful Black Friday protest over a grand jury’s decision not to indict a Ferguson, Missouri police officer in the Michael Brown case turned ugly. Stores in San Francisco’s Union Square were vandalized and protesters clashed with police in multiple locations.
Protesters at Potrero and 22nd Street in the Mission District confronted police and hurled bricks at officers in the area Friday night. Demonstrators also broke a windshield and threw a flare into a KPIX 5 news van. The crew was not near the van at the time and was not injured.
San Francisco Police told KPIX 5 that two officers were injured during the melee. One officer was hit by a brick in the chest, another officer had a laceration to the face. Police said around 50-75 people were arrested.
Earlier, clashes in Union Square took place after protesters marching down Market Street from the Embarcadero were prevented from joining another group of protesters that gathered near the annual Macy’s tree lighting. Some stores had windows broken, storefronts were vandalized and bottles were thrown at officers.
Windows were broken at the Crate and Barrel store and at Grace Jewelry, located at 121 O’Farrell St.
An employee at Grace Jewelry told Bay City News Service that he saw a young man use a sledgehammer to smash the window. “It’s hard to imagine someone being so violent,” the employee said.
The Apple store locked their doors and wouldn’t let people in or out. A police officer said windows were also broken at the Westfield San Francisco Centre.
The protesters eventually moved out of Union Square and continued down Market Street into the Mission District.
Friday night’s protest in Union Square began around 5 p.m., when demonstrators demanded justice for 18-year-old Michael Brown following a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri police Officer Darren Wilson for the teen’s Aug. 9 death.
Around 6:30 p.m., the group of protesters that marched from The Embarcadero, also over the Ferguson case, gathered between Louis Vuitton and Neiman Marcus stores on Stockton Street and were met with police in riot gear.
The demonstrators at the tree-lighting ceremony chanted “Black Friday doesn’t matter, black lives matter” as pedestrians passed by carrying large shopping bags full of goods from nearby department stores.
While the protest in Union Square was loud, it did not stop Friday night’s ceremony from taking place. The 83-foot tall tree, decorated with more than 33,000 LED lights, was lit shortly after 6:40 p.m.
Security guards hired by the Macy’s event organizer as well as San Francisco police were spread out around the protesters.
The protest was sponsored by the organization World Can’t Wait in conjunction with activist groups Occupy Action Council SF and Code Pink.
Linda Jacobs, a political activist and volunteer with World Can’t Wait, said it’s important that people out shopping and “conducting business as usual” hear why protesters are upset about the grand jury decision.
Jacobs said Friday’s protest gave Black Friday shoppers in San Francisco a chance to hear from people about what she called a “national epidemic of police murders,” including Brown’s death.
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