Protests are sweeping the United States on the heels of two police-involved shootings in as many days and the gunning down of five police officers in Dallas, and hundreds made their voices heard Friday in San Francisco.
The Black Lives Matter rally kicked off at Justin Herman Plaza and outraged demonstrators marched to a well-guarded City Hall, demanding change. Emotions were high at the protest, which was organized in response to the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota.
"Stop killing black people," protester Imani Brown said. "We're human beings. We matter just as much as anyone else. The murders of black women's sons should matter as much as the murder of white women's sons."
The city’s acting Police Chief Toney Chaplin spoke to young hopefuls at the Police Activities League graduation, less than a day after peaceful protestors in Texas ran for cover as a gunman fired and hit 11 officers and one civilian.
“This is a challenging time for law enforcement across the nation,” he said.
Protesters at guarded City Hall. Demanding fewer police. pic.twitter.com/JWsjTCq3HA— Jean Elle (@nbcjeanelle) July 9, 2016
At 11: standing together demanding change. pic.twitter.com/tFZOBYLBIM— Jean Elle (@nbcjeanelle) July 9, 2016
At Friday’s demonstration, officers planned to “facilitate the first amendment rights of the protestors” and ensure their “safe movement wherever they go,” Chaplin said. After the shooting at a similar protest, however, Chaplin stationed police officers on rooftops and the ground.
When asked about officer safety, the chief said staffing will be similar to other demonstrations.
“For us, the focus must be organizing in the street,” Chaplin said.
Frank Lara, with the Answer Coalition, said he expected the event to remain peaceful.
March in SF underway on market street. pic.twitter.com/27J1mRJqan— Jean Elle (@nbcjeanelle) July 9, 2016
“We all have a reputation of being an organized and disciplined group,” he said. “In San Francisco, we expect the same tonight.”
For her part, Brown said: "I'm here to call attention to injustice. I'm fed up and sad, and I don't have anything else to do except be here and be peaceful and protest."
Thousands also marched in Oakland late Thursday. A group of marched onto Interstate 880, shutting down all lanes of the highway, until the early hours of Friday.