Several scuffles broke out and 10 people were arrested during a protest in downtown Los Angeles late Wednesday night, the latest in a series of nationwide demonstrations following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin.
The crowd, initially numbering about 300, took to the streets and marched around downtown through the evening.
About 11 p.m., some in the crowd began spray-painting graffiti on glass doors of the U.S. Bank Tower on West 5th Street.
From there, protesters marched into the 3rd Street tunnel, where they were corralled by Los Angeles police officers, who set up skirmish lines at both ends of the underpass. That’s when scuffles broke out between some officers and protesters.
Video from KABC-TV showed one protester swinging what looked to be a makeshift shield at an officer and others throwing objects toward police. Some officers appeared to push protesters to the ground and fire less-lethal munitions.
“They had already destroyed property. They refused to obey a lawful order to disperse. They were observed to be in possession of prohibited weapons” — including brass knuckles and baseball bats, LAPD Assistant Chief Horace Frank saidThursday.
Ten people were arrested on charges including suspicion of vandalism, battery of a police officer and unlawfully attempting to take a person from police custody, according to authorities.
Deputy Chief Vito Palazzolo said officers had fired less-lethal munitions at protesters, including “beanbag” and soft-top rounds, after a group attacked officers trying to arrest a woman who had shined a green laser into the eyes of officers.
“We have gotten an officer with permanent eye damage from one of those lasers,” he said.
He said that protesters injured two officers and that batons were used to “push the crowd away.”
Diego Olivas, 26, was booked on suspicion of battery of a police officer. He said officers had trapped protesters inside the tunnel and made them drop makeshift shields made from boogie boards.
After officers opened fire with beanbag rounds, he said he saw an officer hit someone with a baton and tried to intervene. At that point, he said, a group of officers jumped on him, delivering blows.
“My face is still sore. My chest is still sore,” he said Thursday.
LAPD Officer Mike Chance said Thursday morning that the department is still assessing how many protesters or officers may have been injured, as well as the extent of any vandalism.
Wednesday’s protest was among many nationwide in response to the shooting of Blake, 29, in Kenosha, Wis., as well as the deaths of two people who were killed this week during protests there. Cellphone video shows Blake being shot as he leaned into his car with his children inside. Blake is hospitalized in serious condition and is paralyzed.
Kenosha police officials have said officers were responding to a call about a domestic dispute and did not immediately say why they shot Blake. Kenosha County Dist. Atty. Michael Graveley is investigating the shooting with the Wisconsin Justice Department’s Division of Criminal Investigation.
In Oakland, 600 to 700 people took part Wednesday in what authorities characterized as destructive and violent protests.
At one point, some in the crowd started a fire at the Alameda County Superior Courthouse — one of a number of blazes set throughout the night, according to the Oakland Police Department. Multiple businesses were reportedly vandalized and several arrests were made.
Hundreds have demonstrated nightly this week in Kenosha, defying city curfews and clashing with law enforcement. Police on Wednesday arrested a teenager in the fatal shooting of two people during the protests. Several Kenosha County supervisors asked Wisconsin’s Democratic governor Wednesday to send in 1,250 additional National Guard members to reinforce the 250 already patrolling.
On Monday, hundreds of protesters also marched past LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles to denounce Blake’s shooting. Protesters at one point moved a metal barricade that had been set up at the building’s perimeter, video from the scene showed. Police declared the protest an unlawful assembly about 11:20 p.m. There were also reports of police firing projectiles into the crowd.
NBA players refused to take the court Wednesday for their scheduled playoff games following days of impassioned statements by players and coaches around the league about the relationship between Black people and police in the United States.
Teams in other sports, including the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, followed suit.
City News Service contributed to this report.
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