Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

Berkeley protesters block traffic, stop train

In third night of action over Garner and Brown killings, Berkeley protesters avoided violence of previous evenings

Hundreds of people marched through Berkeley for a third night a row, blocking a major highway and stopping a train as activists protested grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men.

People blocked traffic on both sides of Interstate 80 in Berkeley. Another group of more than 50 people blocked an Amtrak train. Some lay on the tracks, while others sat on a sofa on the rails.

A large group of people began peacefully marching earlier Monday through downtown Berkeley. The first stop for demonstrators shouting, "Who do you protect? Peaceful protest" was the Berkeley Police Department. A line of officers in riot gear blocked them from getting close to the building. The group then headed to a Bay Area Rapid Transit train station and sat outside, prompting authorities to briefly shut down the station.

But as the night went on, the protesters divided into smaller groups that disrupted traffic and train passengers.

The California Highway Patrol said in a tweet that some in the crowd tore down fencing to enter the freeway.

It was not immediately known if protesters were arrested Monday night, although the San Francisco Chronicle reported "scores" of protesters were arrested in Emeryville, a city that borders Berkeley. Five people were arrested Sunday, police said.

The protests started after a Nov. 24 decision by the grand jury not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. A New York grand jury on Dec. 3 declined to prosecute a police officer captured on video applying a fatal chokehold on Eric Garner. That decision set off another series of demonstrations nationwide.

On Monday, merchants in downtown Berkeley cleaned up broken glass and took stock of the previous night's looting after a protest turned that turned violent Sunday night.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said a tiny fraction of protesters are obscuring the wider message calling for reform of policing policies nationwide.

"The people in the Bay Area are sensitive to worldwide issues," Bates said. "Unfortunately, there is a small element that uses violence at times to make their point."

In keeping with the city's history of protests, Berkeley leaders have put limits on their police. Officers cannot have search dogs, stun guns or helicopters and are restricted in the type of gear they can wear, said Berkeley police union President Sgt. Chris Stines. At least three officers suffered have minor injuries.

Police in nearby Oakland have arrested about 200 people since the protests started.

Elsewhere on Monday night, In downtown Phoenix, about 200 protesters marched to Phoenix police headquarters over the killing of an unarmed black man by a white officer in what authorities described as a struggle last week.

Protesters demanded that police release the name of the officer involved in the fatal shooting of 34-year-old Rumain Brisbon, a man police suspected of selling drugs.

Wire services

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