LAPD chief orders L.A.'s Ferguson protesters released in time for Thanksgiving dinner

Some Ferguson protesters still in jail get a Thanksgiving reprieve from Chief Charlie Beck

Demonstrators who remained in Los Angeles jails Thursday after being arrested in connection with protests against the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Mo., will be released in time for Thanksgiving dinner, according to L.A. police.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck ordered that the approximately 90 people still jailed as of Thursday afternoon be released on their own recognizance.

“We have every legal right to keep them until they post bail," Cmdr. Andrew Smith told the Los Angeles Times, "but in light of the holiday … [Beck] called and said he wants everybody who is eligible for release to be released by dinner time."

Before being released from jails in downtown Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley and South L.A, prisoners will have to sign a promise to appear in court, but they will not have to post any bail money, Smith said. Any protesters with warrants out for their arrest will not be eligible, he added.

Almost 150 people were arrested in Los Angeles overnight Wednesday as protests continued over the grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown. That brought the three-day total of arrests related to such protests in L.A. to 338, Smith said.

Most of the people arrested Wednesday night were adults who failed to disperse when ordered to do so by police, Smith said.

Smith said those arrested could have avoided waking up in jail on the holiday.

“Nobody should have been surprised when they got taken to jail last night,” Smith said. “We gave them warning, not just last night but in previous days as well.”

LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman previously told the The Times that officers made arrests after protesters started hitting vehicles in the street and running through intersections.

"With the size of this crowd, hitting vehicles is not a safe thing," he said.

Neiman said that on Tuesday night officers recovered several weapons, including a switchblade knife and pepper spray.

"When they will no longer comply with our requests and when it becomes dangerous, when they start running in and out of cars and put the public at risk, then we have to take action," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.

Beck said those arrested would be booked on a misdemeanor charge, mostly for unlawful assembly, and bail would be set at $500. 

A similar mass arrest followed Tuesday night's protests, when some people managed to briefly shut down the 101 Freeway and the LAPD made 183 arrests.

The number of arrests in L.A. surpassed those reported in other major U.S. cities on the second and third night of protests.

On Tuesday night, protesters blocked traffic on the 101. On Wednesday night, no freeways were blocked.

Late Wednesday, about 30 more protesters gathered near Staples Center and headed north toward LAPD headquarters. As the protesters walked, police warned them not to block traffic. The demonstrators stayed on the sidewalk and arrived at the headquarters at 1st and Spring streets at about 11:35 p.m., chanting, "We want peace" and "Hands up, don't shoot."

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

11:57 a.m. This post has been updated with the decision by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck to release protesters in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

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