Police made eight arrests Friday night in a protest in the Westlake district over the failure of a Missouri grand jury to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old black.
One arrest was for suspicion of misdemeanor battery on a police officer, Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.
The suspect “shoved one of the officers and you’re not going to get away with that here,” Smith said.
Two arrests were for having outstanding warrants and five people were arrested on suspicion of failing to obey a lawful traffic order from an officer, Smith said.
The last five arrests were essentially “volunteers for arrest” to protest the Ferguson decision, Smith said.
Today’s arrests bring the total number of arrests in Los Angeles protests of the decision to 379, Smith said. There were four arrests on Monday, 189 on Tuesday and 178 on Wednesday.
In preparation for Friday’s demonstration, the LAPD went on a citywide tactical alert about 1 p.m. A tactical alert enables the department to hold over officers from one shift to the next to respond to emergency situations that might arise.
The protest Friday afternoon began around 2:30 p.m. with a news conference across the street from the LAPD’s headquarters at 100 W. First Street that involved a coalition of activist groups and some protesters and bystanders who said they were unjustly arrested by officers during Ferguson-connected marches.
After the news conference, some demonstrators moved to Grand Park where they discussed their strategy for their march.
Demonstrators began walking west on First Street chanting and waving signs with LAPD officers observing the slow moving group that initially numbered about 80 people, according to media reports.
The group continued west on First Street walking on sidewalks until they reached the Westlake area. At that point, about half the group which grew to about 150, according to police estimates, began moving into the street on Beverly Boulevard as they approached Alvarado Street.
That was a turning point, Smith said.
“The protesters were free to use the sidewalks but once they moved into the street, blocking traffic, terrorizing some drivers, disrupting services and blocking people from going to work or getting home, we had to step in,” Smith told reporters at the scene.
The movement from the sidewalks to the street prompted the LAPD to block their progress and cut the group into smaller sections to minimize the danger of resolving the situation peacefully, according to police.
Once the protesters were boxed in, police declared the event an unlawful assembly and then began giving the demonstrators individual desist and disperse orders.
Officers then interviewed each of the protesters individually to see if they had any outstanding warrants and to determine if they were willing to leave the area without being arrested. If so, they were allowed to leave.
Meanwhile, a separate smaller group of people moved to block the intersection of Alvarado Street and Beverly Boulevard. Those protesters were later given the order to disperse. Smith said that those individuals left fairly quickly after the order was given.
Most of the protesters left the area by 7:30 p.m. and the intersection was cleared and reopened to traffic by 8 p.m. Traffic had been stopped on Alvarado Street and rerouted around the area, according to authorities.
As night fell, the LAPD remained on citywide tactical alert with officers patrolling the city looking for other potential trouble spots. Smith said he wasn’t sure when the tactical alert would be terminated, but that call would be made by Operation West Bureau’s Deputy Chief Terry Hara, Friday’s incident commander.