CHP arrests 150 protesters after they block I-80 freeway

I-80 at around 8 p.m. showing protesters taking over the freeway. Photo: Davoud
Protesters on the pedestrian overpass of I-80 freeway at about 8 p.m. Photo: Davoud Kermaninejad

The Berkeleyside team kept this live blog running continuously Dec. 8 from 5:40-10:20 p.m. See continuing, comprehensive Berkeleyside coverage of the Berkeley protests. Follow @berkeleyside on Twitter for live updates of #Berkeleyprotests.

6:20 a.m. The California Highway Patrol arrested more than 150 people Monday night who were blocking traffic on I-80 near Powell Street, authorities said.

After about 1,000 to 1,500 protesters marched peacefully down University Avenue, a large contingent tried to get onto the freeway but were blocked by police, according to the CHP. Around 8 p.m., protesters tore down some fencing along the freeway and got into the eastbound lanes, but the CHP was able to remove them by 8:08 p.m., according to a Nixle alert. Around 8:30 p.m, a large group of protesters destroyed fencing along the south perimeter of the road in Aquatic Park and “flooded into the lanes of traffic,” according to the CHP. They stopped traffic in both directions for more than an hour and walked west in the eastbound lanes. Many stranded drivers just turned off their cars and sat there. Until this point the protest had been largely peaceful. Traffic was backed up for miles on I-80, I-580 and Highway 24. (There was one unconfirmed report that a woman in labor was stuck in traffic, but her car was allowed to leave the freeway.)

When CHP officers tried to get the protesters off the freeway, some protesters started to throw rocks and other objects, according to the CHP. Police cleared the freeway around 10 p.m. Officers arrested around 150 people and took them to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin where they are facing various charges, including resisting arrest.


Protesters also managed to block an Amtrak train by lying down in the railroad tracks near Second and Addison.

The CHP released a statement: “The California Highway Patrol is sworn to protect the people’s right to peacefully assemble and demonstrate, however, the freeway is not the place to express one’s opinions. Vehicles on the freeway travel at extremely high rates of speed and it is difficult for even the most prepared drivers to stop if a pedestrian steps out in front of their vehicle. A collision between a vehicle at freeway speeds and a pedestrian has the same effect as a person falling off a five story building.”

Update, Dec. 9, 4:30 a.m. Officer Jennifer Coats, spokeswoman for the Berkeley Police, sent out a release at 4 a.m. detailing that the force made nine arrests last night, of eight adults and one juvenile. The police estimate that, at the height of the protest last night, there were 1,500 demonstrators. Coats said that, when the protest moved onto I-80, jurisdiction moved to the California Highway Patrol, so she did not have details of arrests made by the CHP.

Dec. 8, 10:20 p.m. The protests in Berkeley appear to have largely died down. A good number of protesters continue to clash with authorities on the freeway in Emeryville. There are still some protesters blocking an Amtrak train at Second and Addison. We are winding up live blogging here for tonight. For updates, follow #Berkeleyprotests on Twitter.

10 p.m. Protesters are marching southbound on I-80 toward the Powell Street exit. Many cars on the bridge have been stuck there for over an hour and have turned off their engines and are sitting in the dark. One group of protesters who didn’t go to the freeway are at Fourth and Addison wandering around but not protesting, reports Emilie Raguso. A good sized-crowd is also near the train tracks. This part of the protest appears to be winding down for now.


9:12 p.m. I-80 is largely at a standstill. All lanes closed in both directions at University. Access to the Bay Bridge from I-80 north is impossible. New group of protesters has joined the freeway at Ashby. Many are heading toward the Bay Bridge.

A line of police and CHP cruisers drive the onramp to get onto I-80 at around 9:15 p.m. on Monday Dec. 8. The freeway has been taken over by protesters. Photo: ABC7 live feed
A line of police and CHP cruisers drive the onramp to get onto I-80 at around 9:15 p.m. on Monday Dec. 8. The freeway has been taken over by protesters. Photo: ABC7 live feed

Protesters are walking and cycling among cars stuck on the I-80 freeway. Photo: ABC7 live feed

Protesters are walking and cycling among cars stuck on the I-80 freeway. Photo: ABC7 live feed

At around 9 p.m., Evan Sernoffsky of the Chronicle posted this photo on Twitter of protesters laying on the Amtrak train tracks:

Protesters laying on the Amtrak track. Photo: Evan Sernoffsky
Protesters lying on the Amtrak track. Photo: Evan Sernoffsky
People on overpass talking abt safety plans, mtg points, possibility of gas. Smells like vinegar
At around 9 p.m. people on the freeway overpass were talking about safety plans, meeting points, possibility of gas. Photo: Emilie Raguso

9 p.m. Emilie Raguso is now on the pedestrian overpass near Aquatic Park. She says about 200 people are gathered there. Some are talking about the possibility of going on the freeway. Some are wearing masks moistened with vinegar as a preventive measure against tear gas. Just after 9 p.m., lots of officers were moving in on the freeway below the pedestrian overpass; protesters also moving in.

Photo: Emilie Raguso
Just before 9 p.m., traffic was stopped westbound I-80 and had just started up again eastbound. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Police form a line to prevent protesters going onto the freeway at University Avenue in Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Police form a line to prevent protesters going onto the freeway at University Avenue in Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso

8:45 p.m. Protesters are blocking eastbound I-80, according to ABC7 News, and CHP said they have torn down a fence.


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8:30 p.m. INTERVIEW: A PROTESTERListen to Berkeleyside reporter Natalie Orenstein interview Lori Miles on why she has been protesting for the last few nights.

8:11 p.m. While some protesters have disrupted traffic on the freeway, the lion’s share of the crowd has left the freeway and is walking east on University. They are currently at Addison and San Pablo. Emilie Raguso said she saw one person with a rock, but that the protest is mostly peaceful. Protesters were saying that they have “to get really loud.”

INTERVIEW: A BUSINESS OWNER: Listen to Berkeleyside reporter Emilie Raguso interview a local business owner on University Avenue who talks about his opinion of the several nights of protests. He said he would rather not be named as he was uncomfortable about being identified given the damage caused to businesses at yesterday’s riots.

8:08 p.m. Both directions of I-80/I-580 are now closed after protesters swarmed the freeway.

8:05 p.m. A small group of protesters have made it onto the eastbound lanes of the freeway and are trying to stop traffic. A CHP cruiser arrived on scene. Watch live feed from AB7News. Update: Now there are dozens of people and they have succeeded in stopping eastbound traffic.

7:40-8 p.m. The march is getting close to the entrance to the freeway. The crowd has stopped. The sound of sirens and helicopters is all around. CHP has closed the off-ramps at University Avenue. CHP estimates the crowd to be 2000-strong. Someone has sent up a drone which is causing interest in the crowd. According to Emilie Raguso, some of the protesters are saying the crowd should rush police. Others saying group should get to another freeway entrance.

Police motorcycles drive over the pedestrian bridge over the freeway at University. Photo: ABC
Police motorcycles drive over the pedestrian bridge over the freeway at University. Photo: KGO live feed
Police line at Sixth St. and University. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Police line at Sixth St. and University. Photo: Emilie Raguso

7:30 p.m. Two and a half hours into the protest, the demonstration has been largely peaceful. Marchers are at University Avenue, approaching San Pablo Avenue. All traffic is blocked; avoid the area, advise BPD.

Protesters milling around on University near the freeway. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Protesters milling around on University near the freeway. Photo: Emilie Raguso

7:10 p.m. INTERVIEW: A COUNCILMAN: Listen to Berkeley Councilman Jesse Arreguín, who represents downtown, talks to Berkeleyside reporter Emilie Raguso about the protests and how the city is handling them:

7 p.m. The march is now heading west on University. There is talk in the crowd of occupying the freeway. A Berkeley Police alert described the gathering outside the BPD HQ as “a peaceful assembly in front of Police Department. Some objects thrown, but otherwise peaceful.”

Protesters walking west on University Avenue. Image: KGO Local live feed
Protesters walking west on University Avenue. Image: KGO Local live feed
Protesters marching on Shattuck. from where they made their way onto University and headed west. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Protesters marching on Shattuck. from where they made their way onto University and headed west. Photo: Emilie Raguso

6:50 p.m: A crowd several-hundred strong is now congregated outside Berkeley Police HQ. They are chanting slogans like “Who do you protect?” and “Black lives matter.” Around 30 police officers are behind a barricade, stopping protesters from getting into the building. Some of the protesters are taunting officers individually, others are trying to engage with them. Some protesters have brought their children with them, and a Daily Cal reporter on the ground reported seeing a police officer giving a child a sticker. (Watch the video, by Berkeleyside’s Emilie Raguso, below or on YouTube.)

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6:30 p.m. Downtown Berkeley BART has been closed.

6:17 p.m. The crowd is marching north on Shattuck and just crossed Durant. They said they are heading to the Police Department HQ and some are saying they want to “shut it down.” There are disagreements among the protesters about whether to be peaceful, or whether they should be doing things “by any means necessary.” The protesters paused, and sat down briefly, in order to vote on which approach to take. Berkeley’s police building is at 2100 MLK Jr. Way at Civic Center Park.

BPD has issued an alert to say that there is a “large demonstration and march in the downtown area. Assembly peaceful. Traffic heavy and blocked. Avoid area.”

6:05 p.m. AC Transit has called a detour for the 51B bus. College-Ashby-Shattuck is operating a normal route at the moment.

Photo: Emilie Raguso
Protesters gathered at Bancroft and Telegraph at 5 p.m on Monday Dec. 8 to march and protest police brutality for the third night in a row in Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso

5:45 p.m. More than 500 people have joined the march, according to Berkeleyside reporter Emilie Raguso, who is on the scene. They have been marching west on Dwight — against traffic – and intend to go through the southside and then head through downtown Berkeley to the police station on Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Traffic is severely disrupted in Southside Berkeley. Avoid the area if possible. (Watch a video of the march, below or on YouTube.)

Protesters are chanting, holding signs, and blowing whistles. As they walked through a dorm blocks, hordes of Cal students came out onto their balconies to watch.

The police presence so far has been minimal. It’s possible the Berkeley Police Department will be taking the same hands-off approach they used on Sunday. Raguso has spotted a few police officers on motorcycles and a few traffic cops, but no others.

Police are holding traffic northbound on Shattuck; crowd takes Shattuck. Photo: Emilie Raguso
At around 6 p.m. police were holding traffic northbound on Shattuck; the crowd took Shattuck. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Original story, Dec. 8, 5:39 p.m. Hundreds of protesters have gathered near the intersection of Telegraph and Bancroft this evening to begin a third round of marches in protest of the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and police brutality in general.

The demonstration was called by Ronald Cruz and the By All Means Necessary group.

The protesters are chanting “No justice, no peace, no racist police,” as they walk up Durant Avenue.

Everything is peaceful so far.

The beginning of the march as it went through Southside Berkeley. Photo: David Yee
The beginning of the march as it went through Southside Berkeley. Photo: David Yee

Berkeleyside updated this story regularly as events unfolded.

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