KING CASE AFTERMATH: A CITY IN CRISIS : Students Clash With Police in Atlanta : Unrest: Violence continues for second day. Jittery businesses in New York and elsewhere send workers home.
Violence erupted Friday for the second straight day in the wake of the Rodney G. King verdicts as students from predominantly black Atlanta University hurled rocks and bottles at police and set patrol cars afire.
At least 22 people were taken to hospitals after the incident. Officers, using tear gas, stopped the students from marching from the campus to downtown Atlanta. Police said 70 people were arrested.
Scattered protests about the King verdict took place elsewhere around the nation, and rumors of trouble sent thousands of workers home early in New York, Miami and Hartford, Conn.
In the Atlanta fracas, at least 17 police officers were injured by flying objects. Several students reported to nearby hospitals to be treated after inhaling the tear gas.
“It was a peaceful protest,” said Andrea Henderson, an Atlanta University student and resident of a freshman dormitory. “The police came on campus and tried to disperse us. I don’t think they had the right to do that.”
But Atlanta Police Chief Eldrin Bell said that two previous marches by Atlanta University students the day before had erupted in violence. “What I’d like for them to do is to leave the streets and go in (to the campus) and hold whatever orderly demonstration they would like to hold.”
Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson said authorities were taking a “deliberate and firm stance” after a day of rioting downtown Thursday in which windows were smashed and white reporters, photographers and passersby were beaten.
Downtown remained relatively calm Friday, and commuters returned to their offices. State police in riot gear ringed the state Capitol, and National Guard helicopters flew over the central business district. Jackson extended his 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, but the Braves-Mets baseball game was played.
In New York, rumors of disturbances spread through the city in the early afternoon as about 400 teen-agers marched through Brooklyn, smashing some windows and assaulting a street vendor. A pedestrian mall in downtown Brooklyn closed in response.
Fearing the worst, hundreds of businesses in Manhattan also shut down and let their workers off early. Subway stations were clogged and people waiting for buses formed lines that stretched for blocks.
Police tracked groups of protesters numbering in the hundreds who marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall. Another group marched to City Hall from Times Square. No major incidents were reported.
But by this time, rumors were rife that windows had been broken at Macy’s, that the A&S; department store had been set afire and that violence had forced the closing of the Port Authority bus terminal, a major commuter depot near Times Square.
On 14th Street, a major lower Manhattan thoroughfare that ordinarily caters to a bustling Friday trade, one storekeeper after another lowered iron shutters in a frightened urban domino effect until barely a window display was visible between 5th and 6th avenues.
Ironically, even as office gossips were reporting sporadic violence and looting, their office radios were reporting that the rumors were groundless.
“A lot of misinformation is circulating throughout the city,” said Police Lt. Robert Nardoza. “There’s talk of riots. Any talk of riots is just not true.”
A rally planned by demonstrators for late afternoon in Times Square scared many businesses in that area into shutting down early. The demonstration drew an estimated 500 people and broke up without incident. But later, as the protesters marched south toward Greenwich Village, they smashed some store windows and got into scuffles with police that left three officers injured.
Violence flared up in two incidents in Harlem, both involving white men who were driving trucks through the black neighborhood. One man was stabbed in the back and the other was left with cuts and bruises.
New York police said 98 people had been arrested, mostly for disorderly conduct.
In Miami, which has experienced more race riots in recent years than any other U.S. city, about 30 to 40 students from North Miami Beach High School marched through a north side shopping mall about noon to protest the King verdict. There was no violence, but mall officials shut down the shopping center as a precaution.
Rumors and fear made a virtual ghost town of Hartford by 3 p.m., as employees went home early and merchants locked up their shops. Mayor Carrie Saxon Perry addressed about 100 blacks at an evening rally.
Elsewhere, Seattle was cleaning up after more than 200 people, most of them black, stormed through a 25-block area of downtown after midnight Thursday, setting fires, smashing store windows, looting, turning over cars and skirmishing with authorities.
About 40 people were arrested, among them an unspecified number of “plain, ordinary thieves known to police from former arrests,” said Police Chief Patrick Fitzsimons. Three people were reported injured.
Tampa, Fla., also remained calm after a night of racial disturbances Thursday.
Chicago, in contrast, had suffered no disturbances since the King verdict. “It’s been very quiet, and police officers have been instructed” to follow departmental orders to be sensitive in all dealings with minorities, said Tina Vicini, a police spokeswoman.
There were various peaceful protests around the country.
In Boulder, Colo., 250 to 300 high school students walked out of their classes and marched to the Criminal Justice Building at the University of Colorado. “It was not an unruly crowd,” said City Hall spokesman Calvin McNeil. “They just wanted an opportunity to express how they felt about the (King) verdict.”
In Washington, religious and labor leaders lead hundreds of protesters in a march to the Justice Department, demanding that federal charges be brought against the Los Angeles police officers who received not-guilty verdicts in the King beating.
The leaders promised to march daily until charges are filed.
Meanwhile, police said they would beef up patrols this weekend in city neighborhoods where large crowds of youths congregate.
Treadwell reported from New York and Stanley from Atlanta. Also contributing to this report were Times staff writers John Balzar in Seattle, John J. Goldman in New York and Marilyn Yaquinto in Washington, D.C.; and researchers Ann Rovin in Denver, Tracy Shryer in Chicago and Anna M. Virtue in Miami.
Violence in Other Cities
Here is a look at some of the violence that flared in sporadic violence around the nation in response to the Rodney King verdict: San Francisco: A state of emergency was declared and a curfew imposed after demonstrators looted stores and set fires downtown. Police shot in the leg a man who broke windows with a baseball bat at Fisherman’s Wharf. Several hundred demonstrators were arrested after they marched across the Bay Bridge, briefly blocking traffic. Las Vegas: A police officer was shot in the leg and another man was wounded by gunfire after a mob of about 200 people set fires, threw rocks and bottles and fired guns. The officer was in stable condition. A body was found in charred rubble of a shopping center. Atlanta: Blacks attacked whites at a subway station. A shopping and entertainment complex was ransacked, bus service to downtown was suspended and police made numerous arrests. At least 26 people were hurt. Tampa, Fla.: One teen-ager was arrested after shots were fired at police. Two reporters suffered minor injuries as up to 200 youths threw rocks and bottles and set at least five abandoned houses ablaze. Seattle: Mobs of up to 200 people overturned cars, threw rocks and broke windows downtown. Pittsburgh: A group of black men beat a white man making a telephone call. He was in critical condition and two men were arrested in the beating. Fires were set and windows were broken overnight. Birmingham, Ala.: Protesters set fires, attacked news crews and fired shots. Warrensburg, Mo.: About 100 Central Missouri State University students broke windows and overturned a car. Omaha, Neb.: Several young men, shouting, “It’s Rodney King day” stopped traffic and tossed bricks and rocks at passing cars. Madison, Wis.: Someone shattered the windshields of 34 police squad cars parked at a garage. A note at the scene said “Justice for King” and “All pigs must die.”
New York: About 400 teen-agers marched through Brooklyn, smashing some windows and assaulting a street vendor. One man was stabbed in the back and another was left with cuts and bruises in an attack in Harlem. Police said 98 people had been arrested. San Diego: Demonstrators blocked freeway traffic, two officers were fired on by a sniper and several beatings were reported.