SF, Oakland protest police brutality in ‘Millions March’

Protests in Oakland ended in arrests Saturday evening several hours after police issued dispersal orders to the crowd, according to police and reports on Twitter.

In San Francisco, a demonstration that took over parts of the Embarcadero, Civic Center and Market Street dissipated around 7 p.m., according to police.

Oakland police Officer Johnna Watson said roughly 200 to 300 protesters were marching in the city’s downtown area when someone in the crowed lit several fires in the streets. Photos on Twitter showed people at the protest burning American flags.

Watson said some people at the demonstration also broke a window at the Whole Foods grocery store at Bay Place and Harrison Street, prompting police to order the protesters to disperse at 6:33 p.m.

“It was after those incidents that we went ahead and issued the dispersal order,” Watson said.

Despite the orders, the demonstrators kept marching, winding through West Oakland and then moving up Telegraph Avenue, according to reports on Twitter.

Yvette Felarca, an organizer with the activist group, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), said the mood was festively defiant and fierce:

“The movement is getting stronger. It’s clear that whatever attempts by police to try to intimidate people and kettle people are not working.”

Witnesses posting images and comments on Twitter said police in riot gear tried to break up the demonstration by chasing protesters and forcing them to move quickly.

Felarca said police blocked demonstrators at 29th Street and Telegraph Avenue, where she was able to escape. Others weren’t as lucky and were arrested, she said.

Police also blocked demonstrators at 17th Street and Broadway, Felarca said.

Oakland police and the California Highway Patrol did not immediately return requests for comment on the number of people arrested, but photos, videos and reports on Twitter showed police arresting demonstrators.

Despite the arrests, Felarca said the march was hugely successful:

“Even when we’re arrested, people come out and keep protesting.”

Felarca, who had been arrested twice in the past two weeks, said it was wrong for the police or the media to describe the protests as either peaceful or violent:

“The question is, is this movement pacifist or militant? Is it standing up and fighting or laying down? This movement as a whole is militant and strong and not pacifist and that’s what makes it so crucial.”

Roughly 1,200 people marched earlier today in Oakland, where they were joined by hundreds of demonstrators from Berkeley who met up with them in front of the Rene C. Davidson courthouse, according to police and reports on Twitter.

The demonstrations coincided with the “Millions March,” a series of protests across the country, including one involving hundreds of protesters in San Francisco today, to denounce the use of excessive force by police.

The demonstrators could be seen walking with signs that said “Black Lives Matter” and “No more police murders.”

San Francisco police Sgt. Monica MacDonald said demonstrators in San Francisco began gathering around 1 p.m. in Union Square.

Some demonstrators marched along the Embarcadero, prompting road closures from Washington Street to Mission Street, MacDonald said.

The marchers stopped at Civic Center, where several speakers addressed the crowd, including the families of Alex Nieto and O’Shaine Evans, according to reports on Twitter.

Both men died this year in San Francisco after police shot them.

The demonstrators then started moving down Market Street, ending in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood.

MacDonald said she could not confirm whether or not there had been any arrests associated with the protests.

The demonstrations in Oakland and San Francisco are two of many protests that have taken place in the Bay Area over the past two weeks following decisions by grand juries to not indict white police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men.