”Black Lives Matter” Groups Block Oakland Police Headquarters, More Than 20 Arrested

About 250 protesters surrounded Oakland police headquarters on Monday morning, scaling poles, blocking the freeway and shouting things like "Silence is Violence" and "Black and Breathing."

Twenty five people were arrested, according to Oakland police spokesman Johnna Watson, who added most of the arrests were for either obstruction of a public building or police officers. Later in the evening, police said there were no arrests at a peaceful candlelight vigil at Lake Merritt.

The protest – held to decry the grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, not to indict white police officers for killing black men – started about 7:30 a.m. at the police building at 455 Seventh Street. Shortly afterward, protesters chained themselves together on the northbound Interstate Highway 880 ramp at Broadway, blocking passage into Alameda via the Posey Tube. One man scaled a pole outside the police station to hang photos of black men killed by police. Others chained themselves to a pole outside the department, all in the pouring rain.

Bay Area Solidarity Action Team organizer Samantha Liapes said  the protest was scheduled to last for four hours and 28 minutes. Four hours for the time Michael Brown lay on the ground on Aug. 9 after Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot him, and 28 minutes to represent every 28 hours in the United States that a black man is killed, according to a Malcom X study called "Operation Ghetto Storm."

The NBC Bay Area chopper showed dozens of people lined up peacefully, some carrying signs, lining streets and sidewalk surrounding the department. Some signs read "Black and Breathing."

 “We fight for justice for every single black life that has passed at the hands of police,” said one of the organizers, Dierdre Smith. "But we must also stand up and shut down for the black and breathing who are at risk of the same fate,

Smith is part of  one of the Bay Area-based, new self-described "all-black" movements, which go by "The Blackout Collective,"  "#BlackBrunch" and "#BlackLivesMatter." They said they began organizing because many of the "Black Lives Matter" protests have been taken over by white participants, including some that have ended in vandalism, looting and arrests.

In statements, their groups said they want members of the black community to lead the fight for people who are "black and breathing." Members live-tweeted the protest, showing pictures of a man scaling a police pole to hang faces of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and other brown faces of those killed by police.

However, the African-American groups were supported on Monday, both in spirit and with bodies, by members of Bay Solidarity Action, a group of whites who said they want to bring attention to the "systemic nature of racism, which drives police violence." A group of like-minded Asians, called #Asians4BlackLives, also joined the group, helping to get out the word.

Protesters have taken to the streets all over the country, including Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco, to vent their frustration over the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island in New York. They see these deaths as examples of police brutality against unarmed black men. As a result, many have taken to support police officers, coming up with an alternate slogan #CopsLivesMatter.

But on Monday, police and protesters, for the most part, appeared to respect each others' roles.

"This action is part of a larger, sustained effort to disrupt business as usual in the tradition of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Woolworth counter sit-ins,” said Jeralynn Blueford, mother of Alan Blueford, a man who was killed by an Oakland police officer in 2012. “We didn’t get an equal seat on the bus or at the lunch counter because we said ‘please.’ We got our seats because of our highly organized and effectively sustained protests and boycotts, disrupting business as usual. We hold this space today as a demonstration of black peoples’ right to exist and to thrive, just like anyone else.”

NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez contributed to this report.

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