Following on a violent and chaotic Saturday and Sunday in Berkeley where at least 400 people were protesting police violence against unarmed civilians, about 1000 to 1500 protesters gathered again on Monday to march from the UC Berkeley campus through downtown Berkeley and down University Avenue to the I-80 freeway. Berkeley police and CHP officers attempted to form a skirmish line to prevent protesters from getting onto the freeway, but as the Chron reports there were far too many of them, and "dozens" managed to get onto the freeway and shut it down just before 8 p.m., and continuing to disrupt traffic for about the next hour.
Earlier, at 6:30 p.m., the large protest swarmed into downtown forced the closure (once again) of the Downtown Berkeley BART station. A group of protesters also made a line across the Amtrak tracks near the freeway, disrupting train traffic as well.
CHP officers noted that a woman in labor in a car on I-80 had to get transported to a hospital by ambulance after being stuck in traffic. The CHP arrested 150 people on suspicion of resisting arrest, obstructing police and other charges, as the AP reports.
CBS 5 has some raw helicopter footage of about two dozen protesters blocking the westbound lanes of I-80 that you can watch below, and here you can watch a Reuters/AOL report on Monday night's protest.
Monday's largely peaceful demonstration follows on two weeks of both violent and non-violent protests in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. Protests began the Monday before Thanksgiving with a shutdown of part of the I-580 freeway in Oakland in the wake of the non-indictment of Ferguson, Missouri cop Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Black Friday and the following Saturday were filled with more action, most notably with the brief shutdown of BART at West Oakland, and a violent night of vandalism and looting in San Francisco.
Then last Tuesday brought a new round of public outcry after another case of apparently wrongful death of an unarmed man in New York, Eric Garner, also ended without an indictment. More violent protests followed on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with Saturday and Sunday bringing the most chaotic action to the streets of Berkeley. Five people where charged on Sunday in connection with vandalism and looting of businesses there.
The Chron talked to some veteran protesters from the 60's, one of whom helped organize Saturday's "die-in" on Market Street, who bemoan the fact that the freeway shutdowns may garner attention, but these kids these days don't seem to know that they need to be asking for something specific, and not go out to fuck shit up.
But, says 67-year-old Richard Becker, we shouldn't ignore the tenaciousness of this band of protesters. "The media coverage very often goes with the sensational, but there is a much bigger story here than that," he says. "I’ve been an activist since the 1960s and I don’t remember 15 straight days like that. This means there is genuinely a great deal of anger."