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Police Arrest Dozens To End Ferguson Protests In Downtown L.A.

By Richard Winton, Kate Mather, Angel Jennings, Tre’vell Anderson, Samantha Masunaga, Marisa Gerber, Brittny Mejia, Ruben Vives, Taylor Goldenstein and Frank Shyong, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

A large demonstration against a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager ended early Wednesday morning in downtown Los Angeles when police officers in riot gear surrounded a group of several dozen protesters.

At about 12:45 a.m., Los Angeles police told the group they were under arrest and ordered the crowd to sit down. Two police buses arrived near the intersection of Temple Street and Broadway. A police spokesman said the arrests were made on charges of disorderly conduct.
The LAPD also arrested 33 protesters at the intersection of Flower Street and 9th Street, according to Capt. Martin Baeza.

It was not immediately clear how many total arrests were made. Up until the late-night incident, the LAPD had arrested just four people in connection with the demonstrations. The California Highway Patrol had also arrested four people in connection with multiple attempts to block local freeways.

The crowd marked the remnants of a large rally outside LAPD headquarters that splintered into roving groups that had disrupted traffic in the area throughout the night. Tuesday’s protests began in South L.A. at about 3 p.m. and steadily moved east to the 110 Freeway. The majority of protesters were peaceful, but some became unruly as the night wore on.

After protesters caused repeated freeway, road and rail closures, they spread out throughout downtown and caused mayhem for motorists on local roads.

More than 100 protesters meandered through the streets and sidewalks near L.A. Live, briefly closing down traffic at Georgia Street and Olympic Boulevard. Nearby movie theatre Regal Cinemas locked its doors, allowing only customers with tickets inside. Police officers in riot gear formed human walls to block protesters from disrupting traffic on the freeway.

Another group outside LAPD headquarters began to march south on Main Street, then headed west on First Street toward Broadway. They left a handful of protesters behind, who drew chalk messages on the sidewalks and wrote anti-LAPD graffiti. A few gathered in a tight circle and sang freedom songs, their voices bouncing off of tall buildings.

Protesters briefly shut down the 101 Freeway in both directions after they placed barricades and metal debris on the road. Motorists trying to escape the jam flooded onto side streets in downtown Los Angeles. As cars packed Cesar Chavez Boulevard, a small group of protesters lay down where the street intersects with Grand Avenue, causing another traffic jam.

Some protesters jumped on a police cruiser near the Hall of Administration on Temple Street and posed for pictures. One of them was detained. A group of about 20 protesters sat down on Temple Street, forcing a truck to reverse and drive along Grand Avenue.

One officer was injured when a protester hurled a bottle of frozen water that struck the officer’s head, an LAPD spokeswoman said.

A small group of demonstrators seemed to be seeking confrontations with police and frequently tried to move the protests onto freeways to disrupt traffic. At least one patrol car appeared to have been defaced with graffiti.

Members of the crowd tried to stop fellow protesters from getting violent, shouting at them to stop.

Throughout the night, demonstrators clashed with each other about what form their protests should take. Some suggested heading to Beverly Hills, while another group split off and walked in a totally different direction.

Elan Lee, 27, watched a man throw a plastic bottle and asked him to stop. A group of men began to argue with her, telling her that both peaceful and violent protests are necessary.
“It was just seeing how mad he was,” Lee said, tears welling. “It made me sad to see someone so angry. … I don’t want throwing a bottle to cause the media to say protests are violent because they’re not.”

Lee, a downtown resident, said she understands the anger but she thinks there’s been enough violence.

“I just want a peaceful movement,” Lee said. “Enough is enough.”

Others felt that some protesters were simply taunting police to collect accolades on social media, where multiple demonstrators were posting pictures.

“Half of this protest I feel like is baiting cops … sort of about proving who you are against the police,” said Wilder Bunke, 21, of Hollywood, who was critical of actions by some in the crowd. “The modern-day “… the police” isn’t shooting a cop, it’s posting a picture of yourself posing with a cop car on Facebook or Twitter.”

Bunke said he felt some were demonstrating for the wrong reasons.

“I support the protest, I support this stand against police brutality and the institution of racism, but the antics of protesters are what delegitimize the protest as a whole.” he said.

Demonstrators said they were combating a sense of defeat and helplessness after the grand jury’s decision.

“Even though this might not do anything, being silent is much worse,” said Dylan Farr, 22, of Glendale.

His sister, a doctoral student at USC, was with him.

“I am angry and I feel powerless to change the way things are,” said Brittany Farr, 26. “It feels good to register my frustrations in a public way.”

Protests took a different form at Holman United Methodist Church, five miles from L.A. Live, where clergy and community groups called for peace and for collaboration.

More than 60 people from various faiths and ethnicities gathered in the church’s social hall about 7:30 p.m. to talk and pray about systematic change.

“I am disappointed, disturbed, but yet still determined … that we can display righteous anger, but do that in a constructive way,” said Kelvin Sauls, the senior pastor at the church.

“This moment and these moments we’ve had must become a movement,” he said.

In San Diego, several hundred protesters shut down a portion of Interstate 15 in the City Heights neighborhood for about 30 minutes Tuesday night. The crowd was moved off the freeway by San Diego police and CHP officers.

At least one person was arrested. There were no immediate reports of injuries or property damage.

A second protest march took place in downtown San Diego without incident.

AFP Photo/Jewel Samad

Weariness Of Ferguson Protests Grows

By Koran Addo, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS — Brian Fletcher loves Ferguson. He brags about it, he rattles off historical facts about it and, as the former mayor, he feels the urge to stick up for the city and its people.
And right now, he says people are tired of the constant protesting, tired of the noise, and tired of feeling intimidated.
That’s the exact reaction many protest leaders said they are hoping for.
It’s been more than two months since Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Since then, protests have sprung up around the region, spreading most recently to downtown St. Louis, St. Louis University, Webster Groves and also the Shaw neighborhood, where crowds have gathered to protest the fatal shooting of teenager Vonderitt Myers Jr. by St. Louis police.
In one incident, video cameras captured a heated back-and-forth between protesters and Cardinals fans outside Busch Stadium.
But the epicenter of the unrest is in Ferguson, and Fletcher, like many others, says it’s hard to remember what it felt like to live in Ferguson before the city became infamous.
On a typical day in Ferguson, there’s a persistent group of picketers along South Florissant Road, in front of the police station, holding signs with slogans like: “Justice for All,” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Ferguson resident Jill Hatcher said she used to drive by and honk her car horn in support.
“Now I speed by with my windows up and my doors locked,” she said.
Hatcher’s fear stems from the events at night, when protesters sometimes march in the street drumming and chanting into the early hours.
Aside from the noise, there have been shots fired, attempted arson, and some instances of looting.
Those are some of the reasons Fletcher started the “I Love Ferguson” group that is putting up yard signs, selling T-shirts, and raising money.
So far, the group has raised more than $50,000 that Fletcher said will be donated to businesses affected by looting.
“People around here were sympathetic at first. People wanted to know why was he shot. And why so many times,” Fletcher said. “There wasn’t a problem until people started feeling scared to go to the brew house and scared to go to the farmers market.”
Fletcher, who is white, also acknowledges that persistent racial tension underlies Ferguson’s new reality.
“I think quite frankly, Caucasians are intimidated by protesters who think that if they can make Caucasians feel uncomfortable, they can change the rules. And it’s working,” Fletcher said.
A number of black people also feel uncomfortable. Pam Peters has lived in Ferguson for 37 years.
“I don’t like the way people are talking about Ferguson now,” she said. “We are good people. We are tired of the protests.”
Peters said she doesn’t think Ferguson will ever go back to how it was before Michael Brown’s shooting.
“We just have way too many young people who are trying to stir the pot,” she said. “If police stop them for no reason, that’s not right. But, not to beat a dead horse, some of them bring it on themselves.”
Marie Ellison, who is white, said she supports the protests.
“When we’re talking about injustice, this should be everyone’s cause,” she said.
But Ellison acknowledged that she’s worn out.
“It’s hard to sleep. It’s hard to eat because of all of this going on around us,” she said. “No matter who you are, if you’re from Ferguson, you’re now looked at as the bad guy.”
Among people on both sides of the issue, many agree that a turning point came on the night of Sept. 23, when the Ferguson Fire Department responded to a small fire outside the Whistle Stop custard shop.
The century-old Whistle Stop building, a former train depot, is one of Ferguson’s historic landmarks. Law enforcement reported that someone had doused the outside of the building with gasoline.
Nearby, at Ferguson Optical, manager Tim Marrah said he’s surprised about the racial tone the protests have taken. He said one of Ferguson’s charms is that it’s always been a place where different races mixed.
Of the protesters, Marrah said he doesn’t see a need for them to leave, but rather, weed out the troublemakers.
“The protests don’t need to go anywhere. This thing needs to be resolved. The violence and the property damage is the problem, not the protests,” he said.
Down the street, at Natalie’s Cakes & More, owner Natalie Dubose said she supports people’s right to protest, while acknowledging the same unrest has essentially dried up the foot traffic that she relies on along South Florissant.
Business really took a dive when the farmers market down the street shut for the season earlier than usual because of the protests.
At one point, Dubose said she went two weeks without a single customer.
“I think it’s the perception that Ferguson now has,” she said. “People who would normally come through here now think it’s unsafe. It’s going to be very difficult to get out from under that.”
Ruffina Farrokh Anklesaria, a 12-year Ferguson resident, originally from Trinidad, said she chose Ferguson specifically because of its diversity.
“I didn’t want to stand out in an all-white community,” she said.
Her love of Ferguson, she said, compelled her to write a letter recently urging protesters to be respectful of the community.
“We understand why you are upset. But Ferguson is not the reason. Any problems of racism are wider than Ferguson. They are national,” she wrote. “Please end this in our city. If you must continue protesting this is not the place for Molotov cocktails, abuse of our residents and so on. We are a peace-loving people. Let us work this out please.”
Anklesaria has recently helped organize some community meetings with protesters. She said she thinks there has been progress in alleviating some of the discomfort.
But for some, discomfort is exactly the point. Alexis Templeton, 20, a Ferguson resident for 13 years, has emerged as one of the protest leaders.
“My response to the people who are tired of us is that you’ll be uncomfortable until we stop being uncomfortable,” she said. “We’ve been uncomfortable for years. You’ve been uncomfortable for a matter of days and now you feel it should end. That’s not fair.”
Templeton acknowledged that troublemakers throwing objects, looting stores, and causing other havoc are hurting the cause.
“But you can’t blame all of us because of a few bad apples,” she said. “Just like we can’t call everyone from Ferguson a racist, because they’re not.
“I encourage all Ferguson residents to come out and stand on the side of one of the marches and see that it is peaceful,” she said. “There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of.”

AFP Photo/Joshua Lott

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