Police made another mass arrest in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday night, the third day of protests against a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a Ferguson police officer for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
LAPD officers arrested about 130 people after corralling the protesters at 6th and Hope streets.
“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.
He said those arrested would be booked on a misdeameanor charge and bail would be set at $500.
About 30 more protesters gathered late Wednesday 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 about 11:35 p.m., chanting “we want peace” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
Disruptions began earlier during Wednesday night’s protest and included protesters hitting vehicles in the street and running through intersections, LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman said.
“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 and pepper spray.
The order for more than 100 people to disperse came just before 7:30 p.m., as officers blocked in the protesters on 7th Street between Figueroa and Flower. Officers announced that members of the crowd would be arrested if they did not leave within four minutes.
Protesters began running, and two people were quickly taken into custody.
Among them was a demonstrator who had taunted police with a Taser.
The crowd chanted, “Let him go.”
Police pressed forward toward demonstrators with their batons in front, pushing the crowd back. A woman fell and was arrested as the officers continued forward.
Protesters were on the sidewalk on the corner of 6th and Flower streets when a line of officers started making a run to circle the group. Some of the protesters attempted to get past them and three were pushed by a baton-wielding officer into the window of a store.
Two of the protesters got away, but one person was held against the window and detained.
One by one protesters were cuffed with zip ties and walked to a police bus waiting to take them to jail.
The MetroRail posted on its Twitter account that the 7th Street Metro Center station was closed due to a “nearby civil disturbance.”
“I would hope that any future protests, people will think about the need to do it legally,” Beck said. “I think that there is sympathy for the point of view of these folks, but I think that sympathy is waning as they infringe on other people’s rights.”
Before the arrests, the crowd had been heading toward Staples Center, after spending several hours marching to LAPD headquarters and the county’s main jail, frequently halting traffic.
“We see you,” some chanted, as they walked past the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, an apparent reference to the protesters arrested Tuesday night being held inside.
When protesters reached Cesar Chavez Avenue and Vignes Street, officers with hands on their batons blocked the way toward the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. Sirens blared in the background and a helicopter’s searchlight flashed on protesters chanting and standing in the intersection.
“Free the protesters, kill killer cops,” they yelled.
But rather than chant, Ray Spears, a resident of Eagle Rock, opted to strike up a conversation with a nearby officer. When the 25-year-old told the officer he was a Christian, the officer responded that he was too.
“I think that all human beings are made in the image of God, and we have civil rights, human rights,” Spears said.
“Hey man, we’re on the same page,” the officer responded.
When Spears held out his fist for a fist bump, the officer raised his hands, he was holding a baton.
“I would if I could right now,” the officer told him. Spears called the conversation “a little glimmer of hope.”
Protesters then retreated from the intersection, walking back into the tunnel they had just passed through on Cesar Chavez. The crowd walked into the street at some points and police scrambled to set up protection between oncoming traffic and the crowd.
The group paused briefly at the Metropolitan Detention Center, where organizers had said protesters arrested Tuesday night were being held.
“Fight the power,” the crowd yelled. Later, as protesters continued the march, some sat cross-legged in the intersection of 5th and Spring streets.
The demonstration ended in a similar mass arrest to the one that followed Tuesday night’s protests, when some people managed to briefly shut down the 101 Freeway and the LAPD made 183 arrests.
The number surpassed arrests in other major cities in the nation on the third night of protests over the grand jury decision this week in the killing of Michael Brown by a white police officer.