Update 9:23 p.m.: Arrests made on 3rd night of Los Angeles protests
Police arrested dozens of demonstrators who refused to disperse Wednesday on the third night of protests over a decision not to bring criminal charges against Ferguson, Missouri policeman for killing a black man.
About 200 largely peaceful demonstrators crisscrossed downtown streets for several hours in the afternoon and evening before some were finally stopped by a phalanx of riot-clad police near the Central Library.
The demonstrators had marched to a federal building and police headquarters but they were turned away after heading toward the county jail and then the Staples Center arena.
Lt. Andy Neiman said an unlawful assembly was declared after some marchers began walking in the street and disrupting traffic. They were ordered to disperse but instead reformed, with police trying to corral them.
"It was sort of leap-frog. They kept moving ... block by block," and some ran through courtyards, Neiman said.
There was a brief, tense confrontation where a handful of demonstrators screamed at officers, who held raised batons.
Finally, squads of police ringed and began arresting around 60 remaining protesters for failure to disperse, Neiman said.
The protesters appeared calm as they were handcuffed with plastic bands and walked to a waiting Sheriff's Department bus.
Most were expected to be released after posting $500 bail for the misdemeanor. However, those unable to pay the bail could remain jailed through the Thanksgiving weekend pending scheduled Monday court hearings, authorities said.
Earlier Wednesday, nine people were arrested after they sat down in a bus lane on U.S. 101 near downtown during one of the busiest driving days of the year.
More than 200 protesters have been arrested over the past three days by Los Angeles police and California Highway Patrol officers.
James Lafferty, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, said the process of releasing them was going slowly because of the sheer number of people and initial efforts to collect the bail and process fingerprints.
Lafferty also said his group had contacted both the LAPD and city attorney's office to argue that arrests made Tuesday night were unlawful and no charges should be filed.
On Monday and Tuesday, police officers escorted protesters and even blocked traffic as they marched through the streets for hours and stopped at intersections, Lafferty said.
"Protesters had every reason to believe ... when in the street they would not be arrested," Lafferty said.
State law requires an officer to witness a person committing a misdemeanor for which they're arrested, but in many cases officers merely arrested people gathered in the vicinity, said Lafferty, whose members work as observers and often represent protesters in litigation.
Police "just arrested everybody," he said. "I think they owe all those people an apology."
Update 7:45 p.m. Crowd marches towards men's central jail, are blocked by police
A crowd of protesters that had gathered Wednesday afternoon in front of the downtown federal courthouse made their way towards the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, eventually attempting to march to the men's central jail.
NBC LA reported that LAPD officers awaited demonstrators at East Cesar Chavez Avenue and Vignes Street where they had established a skirmish line preventing them from reaching the jail. The crowd then began their march towards Staples Center.
Despite the loud procession, the protests have remained peaceful.
Update 5:55 p.m. Protesters gather in downtown LA, decry LAPD shooting deaths
A crowd of about 70 to 80 people gathered in front of the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in a third day of Ferguson-related protests.
Group leaders gave speeches at the beginning of the rally calling on the U.S. Attorney General to bring civil rights charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown.
"He didn’t get jail time or anything," said Alex Yescas, 19 of Sylmar who came out to join the protest. "He’s enjoying his life while there's an innocent person dead."
Protesters also called for the Los Angeles Police Department to release the official autopsy report of 25-year old Ezell Ford, an unarmed African-American man killed by two Newton Division police officers on Aug. 11.
They demanded the same for 37-year old Omar Abrego who died on Aug. 3 after LAPD officers got into a fight with him during a traffic stop.
"The community has a right to know how and why these men were killed," said Keyanna Celina of the Coalition For Community Control Over The Police.
The group also organized the protests and Tuesday's demonstration that started at Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Boulevards.
The LAPD arrested 183 protesters early Wednesday morning for disturbing the peace and violating curfew. Nine more people were taken in custody during morning commute time around 9:50 a.m. when they got onto the 101 Freeway at Alvarado.
"It gets a lot of attention," said Dylan Farr, 22 at the protests in front of the courthouse. "It makes people notice the protest."
But Farr said he was reluctant to get on the freeway, if the crowd ends up marching that way.
"It’s dangerous to stand on a freeway … don’t do that," he said.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Wednesday that arrests will continue to be made if protesters attempt to do so.
— Erika Aguilar, KPCC
Update 4:40 p.m. LAPD on tactical alert
The Los Angeles Police Department was put on tactical alert Wednesday afternoon following a day of loud but mostly peaceful demonstrations throughout the day. Chief Charlie Beck said LAPD and CHP officers had been "extremely generous" in the leeway given to demonstrators to exercise their first amendment rights, the AP reported.
By late afternoon, a crowd of approximately 60 protesters gathered outside the Downtown federal courthouse Wednesday afternoon to protest.
The LAPD is now on Citywide Tactical alert. A Tac Alert holds the current watch personnel on duty. Only urgent Calls 4 service are answered.— Capt Dave Storaker (@LAPDDStoraker) November 26, 2014
— AP with KPCC
Update 10:42 a.m. LAPD confirms 183 arrests overnight
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck released new information on arrests made overnight as groups of demonstrators roamed the central city, mostly blocking intersections, although some did run onto a freeway.
The chief says there were 167 arrests for disturbing the peace and one for felony battery on a police officer. An additional 15 juveniles were cited for curfew violations.
"We want people to be able to speak out, but they cannot do it at the expense of others," Beck said at a press conference. "It is very easy to demonstrate in the city of Los Angeles and not be arrested. However, if you demand on being arrested, we will accommodate you."
Beck also said that the LAPD faces budget constraints, but that city officials also realize that police need to be able to police the city.
The Los Angeles demonstrations have been mostly noisy but non-violent civil disobedience, without damage or property destruction.
Traffic is flowing again on the U.S. 101 near downtown Los Angeles after the arrest of a small group of protesters who sat down in a bus lane alongside the freeway.
Beck says a total of nine people were arrested at the midmorning Wednesday protest.
— AP with KPCC
Previously: About 150 protesters arrested in Los Angeles
Police say about 150 people have been arrested in Los Angeles after failing to disperse during demonstrations against a grand jury's decision not to indict white officer Darren Wilson who killed young black man Michael Brown in a confrontation in Ferguson, Missouri last summer.
Officer Sally Madera said early Wednesday that the arrests were made during protests that lasted all night around downtown. Madera tells KPCC they don't have a specific number for how many people were arrested. They were still being booked Wednesday morning, Madera said, adding that it could take a while to process them and get a final head count.
There are no reports of injuries or property damage. Police remained on modified tactical alert at dawn.
Demonstrators took to the streets for the second night on Tuesday. Hundreds converged on police headquarters while a separate group was chased from the U.S. 101 freeway.
The demonstrators frequently chanted "hands up, don't shoot" in memory of Brown, the 18-year-old shot to death by police officer Wilson on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.
A line of Ferguson protesters halted traffic on the northbound I-5 freeway in La Jolla on Wednesday morning, NBC L.A. reports. Thousands of cars backed up for several miles, reaching south to downtown San Diego.
There were about two dozen people wearing black standing across four lanes of highway traffic shortly before 7 a.m., NBC L.A. reports, just south of the Nobel Drive exit. California Highway Patrol officers arrived after about 15 minutes and, after several minutes, escorted protesters off the highway.
— AP with KPCC
A look at some of Tuesday's demonstrations across the country:
In Oakland, protesters vandalized police cars and businesses in downtown, smashing windows at car dealerships, restaurants and convenience stores.
The crowd briefly shut down two major freeways and set several trash bins on fire across a major street before police in riot helmets forced them to disperse.
The California Highway Patrol in Oakland said several people were arrested.
In San Diego, protesters blocked a freeway and hurled bottles at officers, while a separate group of hundreds marched peacefully.
A rally turned scary when a car struck a protester and then burst through a pack of others who surrounded it. A woman suffered minor injuries.
Several hundred people had gathered near a police outpost to show solidarity with Brown. The driver called police soon after to report the incident, which police say is under investigation.
Thousands of people marched for a second night in Manhattan, gathering in Union Square before splitting into several smaller groups, chanting "No justice, No peace." Some held signs saying "Jail killer cops" and "Justice for Mike Brown."
One group marched uptown to Times Square, meandering between lanes of traffic as police followed. The protesters, disrupted traffic on the FDR Drive and congregated at the entrances to the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges and the Queens Midtown Tunnel.
"As long as they remain nonviolent, and as long as they don't engage in issues that cause fear or create vandalism, we will work with them to allow them to demonstrate," Commissioner William Bratton said.
The NYPD says 10 people were arrested in Times Square. Four people were charged with resisting arrest and six with disorderly conduct. There were no injuries.
In Cleveland, several hundred people marched down a freeway ramp to block rush-hour traffic while protesting the Missouri developments and Saturday's fatal police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who had a pellet gun that looked like a real firearm.
"The system wasn't made to protect us," 17-year-old protester Naesha Pierce said. "To get justice, the people themselves have to be justice."
In Cincinnati, more than a dozen people were arrested and officers had to shut down part of a highway briefly. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that up to 100 people marched several miles through downtown, and some demonstrators climbed over barriers to stand on Interstate 75.
A municipal judge said 15 people were charged with civil unrest.
Protesters disrupted downtown traffic for several hours by blocking major intersections, an interstate highway and a Mississippi River bridge connecting the city to Illinois. Riot police arrested several demonstrators who sat in the middle of Interstate 44 near the Edward Jones Dome. They used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.
A couple hundred people from historically black schools in Atlanta, including Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University held peaceful demonstrations.
Some people split off from a separate rally downtown and tried to block a freeway. Police said some windows were broken and 21 people were arrested, mostly for failure to disperse when asked, but one person faces a weapons charge.
In Portland, Oregon, a rally drew about 1,000 people who listened to speeches then marched through downtown. A splinter group of about 300 people kept going, marching across a Willamette River bridge. Bus and light rail traffic was disrupted, and police used pepper spray and made several arrests.
In Kansas City, about 100 protesters marched through an upscale shopping district to an entertainment area, where they encountered police barricades. A photographer for The Kansas City Star was among several people arrested during the march.
In Dallas, protests were mostly peaceful, but seven people were arrested when they blocked part of Interstate 35 downtown.
A calmer night in Ferguson amid increased National Guard presence
Police in Ferguson, Mo., made 44 arrests after another night of protests — these much calmer than the unrest that erupted after a grand jury declined Monday to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Many of the protesters say they are angry that Wilson, who is white, was not charged in the shooting of Brown, who was black.
Crystal Johnson was among those gathered in front of the Ferguson Police Department. She stood quietly a few feet from a line of police officers.
"It's just a sad situation. Our justice system — it just fails us all the time," she said. "So, if I didn't get out here and march and protest, it could happen to my son."
But, as NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, the protests later turned ugly. Vandals damaged storefronts and a police car was set on fire.
Still, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said it was a better night.
"We saw some protesters out there that were really out there for the right reason," he said. "Unfortunately, there seems to be a few people that are bent on preventing this from happening in the most ideal way that it possibly could."
In some places, officers were pelted with rocks, bottles and other objects, Belmar said. He said 40 off the 44 arrests were for misdemeanors such as failure to disperse; four were felony arrests.
As we told you Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said the National Guard's presence will be "ramped up significantly in Ferguson." In all, 2,200 guardsmen were deployed in the region to keep the peace and protect property.
St. Louis Public Radio's Tim Lloyd reports that Nixon has been criticized for his delay in deploying the National Guard. Critics said that after months of planning, the governor should have been better prepared to stop the looting and vandalism.
"Why a governor who has done that, who had taken those proactive steps on the front end, would hold the Guard back, is on the minds of every law-abiding Missouri citizen and taxpayer," Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said.
The decision came after violent protests Monday night during which demonstrators clashed with police and set buildings on fire; there were reports of heavy gunfire. Dozens of people were arrested.
President Obama, in remarks Tuesday, said he understands the frustrations of people who feel they aren't treated fairly under the law, but added: "I have no sympathy at all for destroying your own communities."
Here are some of the other headlines we're seeing:
- Protests fan out across the country.
- The Justice Department, NPR's Carrie Johnson is reporting, is looking into whether there are wider patterns of discrimination within the Ferguson Police Department.
- And, in case you missed it Tuesday night, Wilson describes his confrontation with Brown in an interview with ABC.
We'll be updating this post throughout the day with the latest developments.
This story has been updated.