Arrests after Trump protesters block 101 Freeway in LA

144369 full

Dozens of people were arrested overnight after demonstrators poured onto the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles, backing up traffic for miles, in protest of the presidential election of Donald Trump.

An estimated 3,000 people turned out at City Hall downtown before the demonstration moved down the road and eventually onto the freeway, according to Los Angeles police Lt. Chris Ramirez.

The protesters stayed there for most of an hour, with drivers sitting and waiting and many getting out of their cars, the Associated Press reported.

Though demonstrations were largely peaceful, protesters grew more aggressive and violent as the evening wore on, Ramirez told KPCC.

Ramirez said there were reports of protesters throwing rocks and bottles at police, along with vandalism of some city buildings and at least one police car.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti responded with a statement attempting to walk the line between public safety and the need for community healing after a "long and divisive" presidential campaign season.

"I’m very proud of this city," Garcetti said later on AirTalk, "not only what we stood up for and what we speak out for, but modeling what love is about and standing against division and hatred — and that was 99 percent of what we saw on our streets."

But Garcetti also warned against taking the protest to the freeways, which he said would detract from the demonstrators' message.

"I think it’s always a bad idea to play on freeways, like our parents told us," Garcetti said.

When the crowd did move onto the freeway, the LAPD and the California Highway Patrol issued an order to disperse and eventually began arresting anyone who failed to comply, Ramirez said.

Photos from the scene showed officers in full tactical gear, with protesters squaring off against police. About 28 people were arrested.

Ramirez said people have the right to protest, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else or threaten public safety.

“When it’s unannounced and it goes onto public highways like the freeway, where it can be hazardous not only to the motorists but to the public, that’s when it becomes illegal,” Ramirez said.

The anti-Trump demonstrations started Wednesday afternoon and ran into the night, with protesters shouting “not my president” and “immigrants welcome here.” At one point, a giant effigy of Trump’s head was burned on the steps of City Hall.

“My marriage might not be legit anymore, because of him. My health care might not be accessible anymore because of him,” said Boyle Heights resident Jayden Bedard. He told KPCC he’s worried about the effect the Trump presidency could have on the Supreme Court and Congress.

Another protester, Bennet Kaspar, said he joined the march Wednesday night looking for a place to grieve.

"I wanted a space where I could connect with other people who felt the same kind of disappointment and anger and fear and frustration as I did but to experience those emotions in person," Kaspar told AirTalk.

Abraham Marquez with the ANSWER Coalition, which helped organize the protests in Los Angeles and elsewhere, told AirTalk the intent of the demonstration was to show that students, working people, people of color, immigrants and Muslims were united in solidarity.

"We've worked too hard and we've sacrificed too much, going into student debt, sacrificing family time working two jobs, 12 hours a day — for what? For this government to come back and put this racist person president," Marquez said. "We're tired of this. People want real change in this country, and it's going to change by taking over the streets."

The demonstrators were among thousands who turned out across the country in protest of Trump's election, from New York to Texas to much of the West Coast, according to AP.

Protests in Santa Ana also turned rowdy. An estimated 650 demonstrators marched to Bristol Street and McFadden Avenue, according to the LA Times:

A brick was thrown into a police cruiser, two other vehicles were damaged and two businesses were vandalized, said Santa Ana police Cmdr. Phil Craft.

Officers fired bean bags to disperse the crowd, and 10 people were arrested, he said. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department assisted police with the crowd, officials said.

Ramirez told KPCC he was not aware of any other protests planned for Thursday, but he said in L.A. demonstrations can pop up without much notice.

This story has been updated.

blog comments powered by Disqus