Ferguson demo in Berkeley: Injuries reported, tear gas deployed, businesses and property vandalized; arrests

Berkeley police used teargas to break up protests Saturday night and Sunday morning. Photo: Pete Rosos
Berkeley police used tear gas to break up protests on Telegraph Avenue on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Photo: Pete Rosos [See more on the Berkeleyside Flickr page.]
The Berkeleyside team kept this live blog running continuously from Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. through Dec. 7 at about 2:45 a.m. See continuing, comprehensive Berkeleyside coverage of the Berkeley protests.

Update, Dec. 7, 2:45 p.m. Police are preparing for additional demonstrations Sunday night in Berkeley in connection with the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, as well as general frustration about what many have taken to the streets to describe as police brutality and the increasing militarization of local law enforcement agencies. Occupy Oakland has announced a “possible meet up” of protesters in Berkeley at 5 p.m. Sunday, at Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way. A small group of about 15 got together Sunday at 1 p.m. on Sproul Plaza to discuss how to promote their concerns and spread the word. Berkeley Police Lt. Dave Frankel said Sunday that local officers are preparing for additional demonstrations Sunday evening: “We’re prepared to respond and ensure that the First Amendment is safely able to be practiced, and that violence and criminal activity is not allowed.” He said other police agencies will be available to assist Berkeley officers should that be required.

Update, Dec. 7, 8:45 a.m.: The demonstration concluded at around 4 a.m., according to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats. The preliminary arrest numbers are five adults and one juvenile. The charges were not available at the time of Coats’ release.

Update, Dec. 7, 2:43 a.m.: According to reports from the scene, many of the protesters have dispersed. Some have called for supporters to meet Sunday at 1 p.m. at Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus to continue their efforts. Stay tuned to #BerkeleyProtest for live updates.

Police form a line on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley during the protest. Photo: Pete Rosos
Police form a line on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley during the protest. Photo: Pete Rosos

Update, Dec. 7, 1:51 a.m.: As the crowd has continued to move south on Telegraph Avenue, from Ashby to Alcatraz Avenue toward Oakland, reports about protesters injured by police continue to come in.


One of those reports came from Cindy Pincus, who photographed a head wound she said she received while trying to retreat from police around midnight. (The picture appears below at about 1 a.m.) She shared her account of what happened with Berkeleyside, and said she is at the hospital and receiving staples to treat her injury.

“The police began walking forward and in 2-3 seconds were pressed up against us with their batons held parallel between them and us. I shouted ‘Be calm, be calm, we’re peaceful!’ And they kept walking forward. I looked to the left and a police officer had begun jabbing a protester with the end of his baton. I turned around to retreat and passed a woman who had fallen and was being trampled. I bent down to pick her up under one armpit while another woman grabbed her other arm. As we were lifting her backwards I saw an officer raise his baton over my shoulder and was struck on the back of the head as I was bent forward. My vision momentarily blacked out and I saw stars. I put my hand to the back of my head and started running. I felt a welt rise immediately and blood ran down my neck and covered my hand.”

Pincus is an intern minister at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco.

A protester and police during the protest where smoke bombs were let off. Photo: Gael McGaen
A protester and police during the protest where smoke bombs were let off. Photo: Gael McKeon

A video from Tom Goulding, of what protesters said were flash bangs followed by the deployment of tear gas, appears below.

Police released a second round of what protestors said was some kind of gas shortly after 1 a.m. Photo: Evan Hofberg
Police released a round of what protesters said was tear gas shortly after 1 a.m. Photo: Evan Hofberg

Update, Dec. 7, 1:21 a.m.: Local resident Dan Lurie shared the following photographs from earlier in the night on Saturday, up through about 8:45 p.m.


Lurie told Berkeleyside: “The vast majority of people there were peaceful, but a small group (5-15 people) of black bloc / anarchist agitators continually engaged in acts of vandalism, including tagging buildings with spray paint, breaking windows, and overturning trash cans. I had photographs of these acts, but some in the group saw me taking pictures, at which point I was surrounded and forced to delete all my pictures. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I had refused, but I definitely felt physically threatened.”

(A photo slideshow from Dan Lurie follows, and can also be seen on Flickr.)

Follow live tweets.

Update, Dec. 7, 1:03 a.m.: One member of Saturday’s protest in Berkeley, Cindy Pincus, who identified herself as an intern minister at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco, said she was hit from behind with a police baton just after midnight “while retreating peacefully.”

The image, which is graphic, appears below.


Protesters say police have just released tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Said a man broadcasting live on Ustream as TruthCastersTV: “We were being peaceful, we were assembling. All night police have been just terrorizing peaceful protesters.”

Image: Cindy Pincus
Image: Cindy Pincus

Update, Dec. 7, 12:57 a.m.: A member of the crowd reports that police are moving up toward the crowd, and believes police will continue to push the crowd south from Parker.

Update, Dec. 7, 12:44 a.m.: Police continued to announce dispersal orders, and said people who remain in the area could be arrested. In response, the crowd clapped and shouted “peaceful protest.”

The crowd is now at Telegraph Avenue at Parker Street.


Scroll down to see the live stream.

Update, Dec. 7, 12:39 a.m.: Members of the crowd are shouting that one person is down on the ground. One person is shouting for a medic, and another person said the person was seizing. These reports are unconfirmed.

According to Seung Y. Lee ‏on Twitter, a “Protester on Dwight tried to throw a flare at the police. It died thankfully before he had the time to throw.”

(A Ustream video follows where a protester identifying himself as TruthCastersTV discusses police use of flash bangs and rubber bullets on Telegraph Avenue.)

Update, Dec. 7, 12:28 a.m.: One member of the crowd described “a bit of a stampede” on Telegraph and said people were pushing and jostling each other as police ordered the crowd to disperse.

Over the loudspeaker, an officer commanded: “To the group on Telegraph, you need to move south on Telegraph.”

The crowd shouted back: “Who do you protect?”

The crowd has moved to Telegraph and Dwight. One member of the group said there was no access to the east or west.

Follow live tweets.

Some members of the crowd said police used rubber bullets for crowd control. Photo: Citizen reporter
Some members of the crowd said police used rubber bullets for crowd control. A photographer who asked for anonymity told Berkeleyside this image shows a welt on left one man’s chest as a result.

Update, Dec. 7, 12:26 a.m.: Protesters have said police used rubber bullets at one point earlier to control the crowd, and some shared photographs of injuries they said were from those bullets. Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said she would have to look into that allegation and could not immediately confirm it.

Update, Dec. 7, 12:22 a.m.: As police tried to clear protesters from Telegraph Avenue, by making an announcement to order them to leave, the crowd chanted loudly, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

Update, Dec. 7, 12:19 a.m.: The crowd continued to chant “black lives matter,” and one man in a wheelchair with a megaphone chanted back: “All lives matter, and I’m a black guy.”

Update, Dec. 7, 12:12 a.m.: Large numbers of protesters and police remain at Telegraph and Channing in Berkeley. Many chanted “cops go home,” “Whose streets, our streets” and “Hey cops, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.”

One man, who is broadcasting live video, said the block is largely surrounded by police, but that there are some ways to leave.

Some have reported on Twitter that one woman’s ribs were broken when a police officer beat her with a baton. Berkeleyside will seek information from authorities for confirmation.

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 11.38.48 PM
A group of protesters and police at Channing and Telegraph at around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. Photo: Citizen reporter

Update, 11:55 p.m.: Berkeley Police say splinter groups caused the peaceful protest to turn violent tonight. In a release issued around 11:45 p.m., department spokeswoman Officer Jenn Coats said splinter groups broke off and began hurling bricks, pipe, smoke grenades and other missiles at officers. “Numerous officers were struck, and one officer was struck with a large sandbag, and treated at a local hospital for a dislocated shoulder,” she wrote.

One of the vehicles being used by police that was vandalized. Photo: BPD
One of the vehicles being used by police that was vandalized. Photo: BPD

“These splinter groups also ran through several Berkeley neighborhoods vandalizing cars and breaking windows and looting businesses.

“Berkeley Police used smoke and tear gas after crowds refused to disperse and continued to vandalize local businesses and pelt officers with rocks, bottles, and pipes.

“Numerous police vehicles were vandalized as the crowd moved through the south campus area.”

Coats said the Berkeley Police Department has been joined by more than 100 officers from the Alameda County sheriff’s office, the Oakland, Pleasanton, Hayward and Alameda police departments, the California Highway Patrol and the BART Police.”

Update, 11:40 p.m.: A group of protesters continues to demonstrate with police in attendance at Channing Way and Telegraph. Some of the protesters are sitting on the ground. The demonstration appears to be peaceful. The smell of tear gas continues to permeate the air.

A group of protesters and police at Channing and Telegraph. Photo: Citizen reporter
A group of protesters and police at Channing and Telegraph. Photo: Citizen reporter
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A group of protesters and police at Channing and Telegraph. Photo: Citizen reporter

Update, 11:10 p.m.: According to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats, “a small splinter group from the original protests” is continuing to protest and is now in the area of Telegraph and 66th. Two police officers have been injured, one requiring treatment at the hospital for a shoulder injury, after the group became violent and threw objects, including rocks and bricks at police. Officers are attempting to get the crowd to disperse, she said in a release. “Several dispersal orders have been given, and the crowd has ignored the orders. In response to the violence officers have utilized tear gas and smoke in an effort to disperse the crowd.”

She confirmed that a van being used by police was vandalized, and that several businesses were damaged and looted during the demonstration, including Trader Joe’s, Radio Shack and Wells Fargo Bank.

Coats did not have information on arrests, damage caused, or injuries to community members.

Police deployed tear gas to disperse protesters at around 10:15pm in the area of Durant and Bowditch in Berkeley on Dec. 6, 2014. Photo: Citizen reporter
Police deployed tear gas to disperse protesters at around 10:15 p.m. in the area of Telegraph and Channing in Berkeley on Dec. 6, 2014. Photo: Citizen reporter

Update, 10:50 p.m.: Berkeley Police Officer Byron White posted on Twitter at 10:49 p.m.: “Residents in the area of Telegraph corridor, shelter inside to avoid exposure to tear gas.” Witnesses on the ground report that police have “pushed” a group of protesters south on Telegraph and they have passed Ashby.

Some of the protesters wore masks or bandanas obscuring their faces. Some were from the so-called 'black bloc' activist group. Photo: Gael McKeon
Some protesters wore masks or bandanas obscuring their faces, using ‘black bloc’ tactics. Photo: Gael McKeon
The 7-11 at 26xx Telegraph Avenue put up a closed sign and people took cover inside as protesters moved along Telegraph Avenue. Photo: Citizen reporter
The 7-11 at 2601 Telegraph Ave. put up a closed sign and people took cover inside as protesters moved along Telegraph. Photo: Citizen reporter

Update, 10:22 p.m.: Police have deployed tear gas and ‘flash bangs’ at the remaining protesters in downtown Berkeley, according to witnesses on the scene, including Chronicle reporters Seung Y. Lee and Evan Sernoffsky. Berkeley Police Officer Byron White reports via Twitter that police patrol vehicles are being vandalized. “This is gonna be expensive…” he posted.

Several vehicles being used by the police were vandalized. Other vandalism included overturning trash cans and smashing windows at local businesses. Photo: Gael McKeon
Several vehicles being used by the police were vandalized. Other vandalism included overturning trash cans and smashing windows and scrawling graffiti at local businesses. Photo: Gael McKeon
Tear gas used by police. Photo: Citizen reporter
Tear gas used by police. Photo: Citizen reporter

Update, 10:18 p.m.: Berkeley Police officer Byron White reports rocks are being thrown at officers at Durant and Telegraph. “Avoid the area,” he cautioned on Twitter at 10:16 p.m.

Update, 10:10 p.m.: Police and a small number of protesters are at Durant and Bowditch. According to a citizen reporter, and many witnesses on the scene, the police are putting on gas masks.

Police put on gas masks at around 10 p.m. during protests in downtown Berkeley on Dec. 6, 2014. Photo: Citizen reporter

Update, 9:40 p.m.: Police are letting small groups of protesters out of the enclosed group of protesters at Bancroft and Telegraph, according to protesters and reporters on the ground. “Cops allowing small waves of #berkeley protesters through at Bancroft. Warning of ‘less lethal’ action,” tweeted Chronicle reporter Evan Sernoffsky, who was among the trapped group, at 9:37 p.m.

Update, 9:20 p.m.: Police have surrounded protesters at Bancroft and Telegraph. Calvin Lee reports via Twitter that “police have surrounded us and ordered everyone to leave, but won’t let anyone leave.” At 9:14 p.m. Li, a student at UC Berkeley, tweeted to various media, asking for help: “…help we are surrounded by police at Bancroft/Telegraph in Berkeley. Help us please!” he posted. Subsequently Li reported his parents called 911 and were told he was “free to leave.” Li tweeted that was “a lie.”

The video below, by a citizen reporter, was shot from Bancroft and Telegraph, while the protesters were still surrounded. People were chanting, “Let them go”:

Update, 9:15 p.m.: The protest has turned violent, according to Evan Sernoffsky, a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. He reports via Twitter that police are surrounding protesters on all sides on Bancroft Avenue at Telegraph. “Sh-t hitting the fan at Telegraph & Bancroft crowd sandwiched in. Officers and protesters are clashing violently,” he posted at 9:08 p.m., and followed up with a report of an arrest.

Update, 9:05 p.m.: The number of protesters has dwindled to a few dozen, according to reporters on the ground. Most are in downtown Berkeley. Some are headed up Bancroft heading east toward the UC Berkeley campus, where police have formed a cordon.

Update, 8:50 p.m.: Protesters are now back in downtown Berkeley in the area of Shattuck and Addison, according to reporters on the ground. At least two trash cans have been overturned. BART has re-closed the downtown Berkeley station. It was closed earlier in the evening when the protest was nearby. KTVU has video showing what it says is tear gas being deployed by police to move a crowd of protesters earlier. Many report that smoke bombs rather than tear gas were used by authorities.

Update, 8:40 p.m.: The North Berkeley BART station has reopened, according  to 511 Bay Area. At least one group of protesters has returned to MLK and University. Some are marching back to Shattuck and Berkeley’s downtown.

Update, 8:05 p.m.: North Berkeley BART has been closed “due to a civil disturbance,” according to BART. Protesters are currently in the residential area on Berkeley Way between Chestnut and Acton streets. The number of protesters has decreased since the beginning of the demonstration at 5 p.m.

Update, 7:50 p.m.: Protesters are now on San Pablo Avenue headed north.

Police line up at Shattuck and Allston at 9 p.m., with few protesters in sight. Photo: Susan Helmrich
Police line up at Shattuck and Allston at 9 p.m., with few protesters in sight. Photo: Susan Helmrich

Update, 7:35 p.m.: The demonstrators have been blocked from heading further west on University, after police formed a cordon at Sixth Street. According to eyewitnesses, protesters turned around and are now headed east on University, back toward downtown Berkeley. At 7:30 p.m. BART reported that the downtown Berkeley station had re-opened.

Police in riot gear form a line at University Avenue and Acton Street against protesters marching against recent grand jury decisions against indicting police officers for killing unarmed black men, in Berkeley, on Saturday, December 6, 2014. Photo: David Yee ©2014
Police in riot gear form a line at University Avenue and Acton Street against protesters marching against recent grand jury decisions against indicting police officers for killing unarmed black men, in Berkeley, on Sat., Dec. 6, 2014. Photo: David Yee

Update, 7:20 p.m.: Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said one Berkeley Police officer was injured when protesters threw rocks at officers. He was treated at the Berkeley Police station and the injuries are not considered life-threatening.

Coats said, at its height, the demonstration was estimated to number between 500 and 1,000 people.

Martin Luther King Jr. Way is back open after having been closed to traffic by police. Police are shutting down streets as the protest continues to move west on University. They are now at Sixth and University. Berkeley police are communicating with the California Highway Patrol in case the protesters reach I-80.

Police are advising people to avoid many areas of Berkeley, and AC Transit said its buses have been detoured away from the affected areas.

Protesters yell at police guarding the Berkeley Police HQ. Photo: David Yee
Protesters yell at police guarding the Berkeley Police HQ on Dec. 6, 2014. Photo: David Yee

Update, 7:10 p.m.: Downtown Berkeley BART has been closed due to protests. An estimated 300 protesters are heading west on University. Berkeley Police Officer Byron White said, via Twitter, he believed they were heading toward I-80.

Update 6:50 p.m. Struggles broke out among the protesters between those breaking windows at Trader Joe’s and those pleading for non-violence.

As some protesters continue down University, windows have been broken at Radio Shack.

Berkeley Police Officer Byron White tweeted that protesters are vandalizing stores between MLK and Sacramento on University. “Avoid the area,” he wrote.

Protesters have been chanting a number of different things, including: “I can’t breathe;” “Don’t shoot;” and “The system is corrupt.”

Berkeley police had called for mutual aid to handle the protests and were joined by officers from other departments, including Oakland and Hayward.

Update 6:40 p.m. Some protesters moved north on MLK from the police headquarters to Trader Joe’s, on the corner of MLK and University. Several windows have been broken at Trader Joe’s and bottles of beer were also shattered. Windows were also smashed at the Wells Fargo on University and San Pablo.

Many marchers shouted at those breaking windows, “Peaceful protest!” According to witnesses on the scene, it was a minority of the protesters, many dressed in black and wearing black masks and bandanas, who were responsible for the more aggressive chants and for the vandalism.

Some protesters are now heading down University Avenue.

Original story, 6:30 p.m. Hundreds of protesters marched from the UC Berkeley campus down Telegraph Avenue and then to Shattuck Avenue, congregating in downtown Berkeley tonight, in protest against the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.

The demonstration began at about 5 p.m. on campus at Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue.

At the corner of Shattuck and Allston Way, demonstrators staged a die-in to commemorate the deaths of Brown and Garner.

Photo: David Yee
At the corner of Shattuck and Allston in downtown Berkeley, demonstrators staged a die-in on Saturday Dec. 6, 2014 to commemorate the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Photo: David Yee

Many of the marchers continued to gather in front of the Berkeley Police Department headquarters, on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. A large number of police were staged in front of the police department. The demonstration, which had been largely peaceful until this point, started to turn ugly at this point. According to witnesses, police formed a barrier to try to contain the demonstrators, but protesters pushed through and made their way toward University Avenue.

This story was updated regularly as events developed.

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