OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Protests took place in both Oakland and San Francisco again Thursday evening in response to Wednesday’s grand jury decision not to indict a New York City police officer in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after being placed in a chokehold.
The protest in San Francisco wrapped up after a group staged a “die-in” on Market and Powell Streets and then marched to Union Square and along Market Street.
In Oakland, a group of 200 to 300 people marched peacefully from 14th Street and Broadway down to Jack London Square and then to East Oakland.
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While some protesters split off along the way, the bulk of the group traveled down International Boulevard.
Oakland police attempted to break up the protest, stopping the marchers at 22nd Avenue and International Boulevard and declaring an unlawful assembly before allowing people to leave individually.
However, a smaller group of around 50 continued marching to the Fruitvale BART station, where they were met by a heavy police presence and a closed station.
Outside, protesters held a moment of silence for Oscar Grant, an unarmed black man shot to death there by a BART police officer in 2009, and listened to speakers including Iraq war veteran Martin Madrigal.
“I didn’t come home from serving my country to have it be a police state,” Madrigal said. “Politicians and the people who hold power don’t want to have that conversation…We need to keep the conversation going.”
Fruitvale Station reopened shortly before 10:30 p.m.
Earlier Thursday evening, BART officials partially closed the 12th Street station entrance in Oakland for more than an hour due to the protest, and AC Transit rerouted buses around the downtown area.
One protester, Sophia Smith of Oakland, said she was protesting because she has a 14-year-old son.
“He’s growing into a man, and every day I fear for his safety,” she said.
Wednesday night’s protests remained peaceful with few arrests, in contrast to protests last week in response to a similar Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen.
Oakland resident Ben Lynch said that there is still time for a conviction for the police officers who killed Garner and Brown.
“It’s sad that we can’t even say we have equal application of the law in a democracy,” he said.
Ben McBride, associate Pastor at The Way Christian Center in Berkeley, said “Until a black person isn’t getting killed every 28 minutes by police or a vigilante then we shouldn’t have peace.”
“The system is working the way it’s designed, which is to not provide freedom and opportunities for black people,” McBride added.
Deja Lyons of Oakland said she had been harassed by police and stopped by officers looking for a robbery suspect.
“They were mad rude, and told us the reason we were getting stopped was because we were black,” Lyons said. “I’m just sick of it.”
In San Francisco, Market Street was briefly closed at Powell Street due to a “die-in” protest and buses were rerouted around the area, according city transit officials.
Market Street has cleared and traffic resumed as protesters moved out of the street, transit officials said.
A similar protest at Powell Street last night shut down Market Street for more than an hour.
BART officials closed the 12th Street station entrance in Oakland Thursday night for more than an hour due to the protest, and AC Transit rerouted buses around the downtown area.
Oakland police made a total of 169 arrests last week as freeways were blocked, fires were set, windows were broken and businesses were looted.
San Francisco also had several protests last week including one on Black Friday in which store windows at Union Square were smashed and several police officers injured. Police reported arresting at least 79 people during the Black Friday protest.
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