Two grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in connection with the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have resulted in a wave of protests throughout the nation, as those frustrated with increasing police violence have taken to the streets to make their voices heard.
With the wound from Oscar Grant’s case still fairly fresh, residents throughout the Bay Area joined in, as major demonstrations were held in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley.
Known for a unique mix of political awareness and activism, the region that birthed the Black Panther Party has a history of being at the forefront of a list of social issues; this weekend all eyes turned to Berkeley as a peaceful protest launched at UC Berkeley erupted into flames and police brutality.
We were on hand as a small group convened in front of the University on Saturday, December 6 and began to march peacefully down Berkeley’s well known Telegraph Avenue.
Despite initial reports, the crowd was largely White and was joined by UC Berkeley students as they chanted “Black lives matter,” “Hey hey, ho ho. Racist cops have got to go” and more as they marched throughout the streets of Downtown Berkeley.
Following a “die-in” in the middle of a intersection, the tide quickly turned as the Berkeley Police Department arrived already dressed in riot gear. Also present, were masked men unrelated to the initial protesters who would go on to deface property, including the looting of a local Trader Joe’s which sparked the first round of tear gas and rubber bullets shot directly into the crowd, resulting in one protester’s leg being broken.
After reconvening at the front of the University, there was a tense standoff between authorities and police, as protesters were isolated and separated into groups before being surrounded.
Admonishing the crowd that it was an unlawful assembly, after giving a warning to disperse violence erupted after authorities rushed into the crowd yelling “Move back, move back.”
Chaos ensued as Berkeley Police, now joined by officers from nearby Oakland and beyond, began firing rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd of nearly 1500 protesters.
One woman was dragged into local eatery Blondie’s Pizza, after an officer was seen striking her with a baton for failing to move quickly enough. Also caught in the commotion, were a group of elderly concert goers who was accidentally gassed as they were attempting to get their cars out of a parking garage.
The following night, another march once again took a violent turn, as protesters shut down a freeway and set several California Highway Patrol vehicles on fire. There was also reportedly two officers injured, with one suffering a shoulder injury in relation to debris thrown at authorities.
To date, 11 individuals have been arrested as the Bay Area continues to rally.
Check out a few of the images below: