11 Dramatic Photos Of Berkeley Protests Becoming Violent This Weekend
Since last week's non-indictment of NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the videotaped choking death of unarmed 43-year old Staten Island resident Eric Garner, protests have spread through cities and towns across America. And on the west coast, the cradle of the 1960s free speech movement is no exception — Berkeley protested for Eric Garner and Ferguson this weekend, and the results were dramatic. Suffice to say the protests were met with a heavy police presence, and the famed collegiate street Telegraph Ave. was turned into a tense encounter between students, activists and law enforcement.
According to NBC News, things got a little hairy, with protesters throwing "concrete" objects at the police and trying to set a squad car alight, while the authorities responded with teargas, a chemical agent which is for some reason banned for use in wars (as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention), but is permitted for use by law enforcement in the event of a "domestic riot control" situation.
All in all, it added up to a night of impassioned protest, the shutting down of major streets (including blocking off the westbound I-580 freeway, a central vein of East Bay roadways), and clashes with police forces. Wondering what it all looked like? Here are 10 scenes from the Berkeley protests this weekend.
Preparations For a Tumultuous Night
Police in Oakland readied for another night of fervent protests, and their instincts of it moving onto the East Bay freeway were well-founded — they were out in full-force around various onramps and overpasses last night, trying to stem the tide to varying effects. What that would ultimately mean was violent clashes with protesters, amid reports of teargas and rubber bullets.
But the Freeway Was Swamped
In spite of the efforts of law enforcement, the anti-police violence protesters flooded onto the freeway that rolls through Berkeley, Emerville and Oakland, shutting traffic down dead in its tracks. Disrupting traffic and gridlocking streets has been a fixture tactic of the protests since the Eric Garner decision — similar shutdowns have taken place in New York city, though in the far smaller, relatively sleepier city of Berkeley, the scene was probably less expected by late night would-be motorists.
There Was Some Violence/Property Damage as Well
The California Highway Patrol reported some damage done to a number of squad cars last night, as well as some damaging of East Bay-area businesses — social media has revealed images of a vandalized Radio Shack, for example, as well as a Chase bank with its windows smashed in.
"No Racist Police"
It's obviously enough that any protest actively involving police violence runs the risk of turning afoul when there's a heavy police presence involved. This isn't to conflate chanting protesters with looters or rioters — quite the contrary, acts of arson and theft are distinct in both purpose and validity from the kind of unrelenting civil disobedience that was also on display last night.
Tear Gas Was Flowing in the Air
While the image above may not register with any specific salience to someone who isn't from Berkeley, anybody who's attended the college or lived there for any stretch of time will immediately know where this is — it's on Telegraph Ave, pretty near to the campus. And police weren't shy about the use of teargas, reportedly letting it fly at a number of different sites Sunday night.