Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Ferguson protests spread across US

People marched in Ferguson actions from Maine to California; most were peaceful

People protesting the grand jury decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown took to the streets in cities across the country, from Los Angeles to New York City, for a second night on Tuesday.

For many, Brown's shooting death on Aug. 9 recalled other troubling encounters with law enforcement. The refrain "hands up, don't shoot" — in reference to Brown’s alleged physical stance and words before his death — became a rallying cry for protests over police killings nationwide.

In Los Angeles protesters flooded the U.S. 101 freeway Tuesday night, carrying barricades that they laid across lanes and bringing traffic to a halt.

Within a few minutes, Highway Patrol and LAPD officers chased the few dozen protesters off the freeway and corralled them on an overpass, where one of the barricades was thrown onto the highway below. There were no immediate reports of any arrests.

Protesters set up barricades and shut down the 101 freeway in Los Angeles, Nov. 25, 2014.
David McNew / Getty Images

The protesters had broken away from a larger, primarily peaceful group of hundreds who had marched for miles through city streets since midafternoon, converging on police headquarters.

Farther north in Oakland, a group of protesters vandalized police cars and businesses downtown, smashing windows at car dealerships, restaurants and convenience stores on a second night of protests. At least 40 people were arrested in Monday night's melee, which escalated after some protesters shut down traffic on a major highway in the San Francisco Bay Area. A police spokeswoman said several officers were injured, but she did not elaborate.

In New York City, thousands of people marched for a second night in Manhattan, gathering at Union Square before splitting into several smaller groups, chanting "No justice, no peace." Some held signs saying "Jail killer cops" and "Justice for Mike Brown."

The New York protesters marched through midtown Manhattan and blocked the streets. Jesse James Jenning, 58, a driver held up in traffic by the protests, said he didn't mind the delay and supported the protesters.

"Just driving home, I or my son could get pulled over and shot just for taking out our wallets and our IDs," he said. "How do you tell a mother her son will never come home because of an accident? That's not an excuse."

The protesters, who seemed to grow in number as the night wore on, disrupted traffic on the FDR Drive and congregated at the entrances to the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges and the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said officers were giving protesters "breathing room."

"As long as they remain nonviolent and as long as they don't engage in issues that cause fear or create vandalism, we will work with them to allow them to demonstrate," he said.

Protests were mostly peaceful, with just two arrests, including that of a man who threw a jar of fake blood that struck Bratton. Police said protesters briefly shut down the Brooklyn Bridge and one of the three spans of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, formerly known as the Triborough Bridge, on Tuesday night.

Protesters also marched in Seattle, Washington, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and disrupted traffic in St. Louis and Cleveland. Rallies were held in Michigan, Maine, Georgia, Wisconsin and other states.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged protesters in Ferguson and elsewhere in the United States to refrain from violence and called on law enforcement to protect the rights of people to demonstrate peacefully.

Protesters disrupted traffic for several hours in St. Louis by blocking major intersections, an interstate highway and a Mississippi River bridge connecting the city to Illinois. About 300 people marched to the St. Louis courthouse, chanting "You didn't indict. We shall fight." Police used pepper spray and arrested several demonstrators who blocked major intersections in the city.

Riot police arrested several demonstrators who sat in the middle of an interstate highway. They used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

In Philadelphia, where hundreds marched, protester Ethan Jury said, "Mike Brown is an emblem [of a movement]. This country is at its boiling point ... How many people need to die? How many black people need to die?"

A rally in Minneapolis turned violent when a car struck a protester and then burst through a pack of others who surrounded it. A woman suffered minor injuries. Several hundred people had gathered Tuesday afternoon near the 3rd Precinct police outpost to show solidarity with Brown. The driver called police soon afterward to report the incident, and police spokesman John Elder said it was under investigation.

In Boston protesters marched past a correctional facility, where inmates taped Brown's name on a window in solidarity with the marchers outside. The Boston Globe estimated 1,400 people marched through Back Bay and the financial district. An altercation between protesters and police outside South Station resulted in about a dozen protesters placed in restraints, the paper reported.

Several hundred people from historically black schools Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University in Georgia held peaceful demonstrations. But as the night wore on, some groups split off and tried to block a freeway, and police said some windows were broken.

Protesters march in a second night of protests after the grand jury decision on the Ferguson shooting, Nov. 25, 2014, in Washington, D.C.
Michael Hernandez / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Police said 21 people were arrested, mostly for failure to disperse when asked; one person faces a weapons charge.

In Portland, Oregon, a rally drew about 1,000 people who listened to speeches, then marched through downtown. A splinter group of about 300 people kept going, marching across a Willamette River bridge into East Portland. Bus and light rail traffic was disrupted, and police used pepper spray and made several arrests.

In Seattle hundreds of students walked out of high school classes and rallied at the University of Washington or marched to the downtown federal courthouse.

The night before, demonstrators in the city threw canned food, bottles and rocks after marching peacefully for hours. Police responded with pepper spray and flash-bang grenades. Five people were arrested. 

Demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and Albuquerque, New Mexico, also blocked traffic at times but were generally peaceful.

In Cleveland, several hundred people marched down an exit ramp and temporarily blocked rush-hour traffic on a busy freeway on Tuesday while protesting a police officer's fatal shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who had brandished a realistic-looking novelty gun.

Rice was shot Saturday when police responded to a 911 call about a gun at a playground. Police later determined he had an airsoft gun, which typically shoots tiny plastic pellets, but it was missing its orange safety indicator.

Among the protesters was 17-year-old Naesha Pierce, who said she had stayed up until 3 a.m. watching television news coverage from Ferguson, where people marched in streets, destroyed police cars and set businesses on fire.

"The system wasn't made to protect us," she said. "To get justice, the people themselves have to be justice."

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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