More than 150 Arrests After Berkeley Protesters Shut Freeway: CHP

The California Highway Patrol said on Tuesday that officers arrested more than 150 people after protesters blocked Interstate Highway-80 in Berkeley for more than 90 minutes the night before as the nation continues to hold demonstrations stemming from events in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York.

Mostly, the CHP arrested people on charges of resisting arrest, and they were taken to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. Meanwhile, in Berkeley, police officerJennifer Coats said Monday night's demonstrations were "relatively peaceful," and she was not aware of any damaged property. Still, Berkeley police arrested nine people - eight adults and one minor as of Tuesday morning.

In addition, by Tuesday morning, Union Pacific employees had fixed the railroad arms at the Amtrak station in Emeryville after authorities said vandals cut cables there late Monday night.

Angry crowds in the Bay Area city famous for activism have spent much of the last few days blocking traffic and clashing with police, thousands of miles from the places where Michael Brown and Eric Garner were killed, and the white police officers who shot them faced no criminal consequences.

Monday night, demonstrators made their way through Berkeley, briefly shutting down traffic at Channing and Shattuck on their way toward police headquarters. The march forced the temporary closure of the Downtown Berkeley BART station at about 6:30 p.m. At times, the CHP said in an alert, the crowds on Monday night swelled to 1,500 people.

Protesters also marched onto the freeway and blocked lanes on Interstate 80 near University Avenue.

At about 8:45 p.m., protesters were seen walking on eastbound and westbound lanes of the freeway near University Avenue bringing cars to a halt.

Demonstrators were also seen walking on a pedestrian overcrossing above the freeway south of University Avenue and were blocked by police.

Police agencies from other jurisdictions arrived shortly after the Interstate 80 and University Avenue blockade.

Protesters also blocked Amtrak trains, disrupting service and causing delays.

At about 10 p.m., protesters who blocked traffic along I-80, marched toward the Bay Bridge. Other protesters were spotted by the NBC helicopter marching into Emeryville.

The crowds over the weekend numbered in the hundreds. It appeared at least that many attended Monday night's demonstrations.

A few in the crowd have tried to use the demonstrations as a pretext for violence and vandalism, just as they did during the Occupy Wall Street movement. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said a tiny fraction of protesters are obscuring the wider message calling for reform of policing policies nationwide.

"The people in the Bay Area are sensitive to worldwide issues,'' Bates said. "Unfortunately, there is a small element that uses violence at times to make their point.''

Demonstrators say police set the tone for things to turn ugly. Angry protesters fired back by breaking windows of businesses throughout downtown Berkeley.

Merchants on Monday cleaned up broken glass and took stock of the previous night's looting from downtown Berkeley stores. Many businesses that were unaffected over the weekend closed early or were boarded up ahead of Monday night’s demonstrations.

It was not immediately known how many businesses were damaged, and no damage estimate was offered. Five people were arrested, police said.

In keeping with the city's protest history, Berkeley leaders have put limits on their police. Officers cannot have search dogs, stun guns or helicopters and are restricted in the type of gear they can wear, said Berkeley police union President Sgt. Chris Stines.

Stephanie Chuang, Jodi Hernandez and Nannette Miranda contributed to this report.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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