Protesters Flood California Highway, Throw Rocks, Bottles at Officers, Police Say

Holly Yan and Joe Sutton, CNN, December 8, 2014

From the streets of California to the stores of New York City, protesters are making sure no one forgets the case of Eric Garner.

But some are doing so more violently than others.

Demonstrators flooded a highway in Oakland, California, late Sunday night, prompting a heated standoff in the freeway between protesters and the California Highway Patrol.

Some threw explosives, bottles and rocks at officers, authorities said. Highway Patrol Sgt. Diana McDermott said it wasn’t clear what type of explosives were thrown, but she said some in the crowd had Molotov cocktails and M-80 firecrackers.

Officers responded by deploying gas and arresting eight protesters. In the end, two officers suffered minor injuries.

Gurpreet Heer, a student at the nearby University of California, Berkeley, said he saw people throwing glass and rocks at police.

“People were vandalizing police cars and jumping on the cars,” Heer said.

Police said five patrol cars were damaged.

In the city of Berkeley, protests spilled into Monday morning. Some protesters looted and vandalized businesses, police spokeswoman Jennifer Coats said.

One protester was struck in the head with a hammer when he tried to keep fellow protesters from damaging and looting a Radio Shack, she said. The man was hospitalized, but his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Two Berkeley officers also suffered minor injuries. Coats said five people were arrested, but she did not know the charges.

The acts of violence were apparent anomalies in a sea of protests nationwide decrying a grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer who killed Garner, an unarmed black man.

Garner’s last words–“I can’t breathe”–have become a rallying cry for protesters denouncing police brutality, particularly against unarmed black men.

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Hundreds of protesters also gathered at Grand Central Terminal and Macy’s in Herald Square–sites of multiple “die-ins” over the past few days–before barging through the nearby Toys R Us to lie on the floor en masse.

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While protesters chanted “Black lives matter,” many of the demonstrators were not black.

“They rarely shoot old white guys like me,” one protester’s sign read.

While some protesters in New York chanted, “How do spell racism? NYPD,” members of the New York Police Department marched alongside them, showing restraint.

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But in Imperial, Missouri, demonstrators staged a different kind of protest Sunday.

They burned St. Louis Rams football jerseys after five players ran onto the field last weekend making the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture, CNN affiliate KSDK reported.

That gesture became a symbolic part of anti-police demonstrations in the Michael Brown case.

“Why would you do something like that? It’s utterly ridiculous,” said Larry Magee. “I think the Rams ought to pack their bags, and I’ll give them a plane ticket back to L.A.”

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