At least two people were arrested after separate protest marches through Los Angeles triggered by the grand jury decision announced in Ferguson, police said today.
The marchers — gathered to protest a grand jury finding that Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the August shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man — stopped northbound and southbound traffic on the Harbor (110) Freeway downtown for approximately 70 minutes Monday night and Tuesday morning, and also blocked lanes on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills for about 10 minutes.
Earlier, a smaller group of protestors tried to block lanes on the Santa Monica (10) Freeway near La Brea Avenue, but were chased away by California Highway Patrol officers.
Sgt. Ed Kinney of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Central Division said one of the protestors was arrested at the scene of the 110 freeway stoppage, and another at a later gathering on East First Street, in front of police headquarters. What they might be charged with was not immediately disclosed.
A tactical alert, which requires that all officers remain at their posts beyond their shifts, was called early Monday afternoon after it was announced that the Ferguson decision was imminent, Kinney said. The alert was lifted at 3 a.m. today.
The Los Angeles Times estimated that one of the marches, which began at Leimert Park before heading north on Figueroa Street, had swollen to around 300 participants by the time it reached the 110 Freeway.
News footage from the scene showed protestors scaling an embankment and then standing and lying on the northbound lanes of the freeway, with some stopping traffic on the southbound lanes.
Protestors could be seen standing on the narrow concrete center divider, and a cyclist circled around the northbound lanes.
California Highway Patrol Officer Peter Bishop said the freeway was shut down around 11:20 p.m. Monday, and reopened at 12.30 a.m.
After being given an order to disperse by the CHP, some of the protestors marched west on West Pico Boulevard.
The Los Angeles Times quoted LAPD Deputy Chief Bob Green as saying non-lethal rounds were fired into the ground to disperse the protestors. The Times reported three non-lethal rounds were fired.
No arrests were made during a brief stoppage of traffic on the 9500 block of Wilshire Boulevard, in front of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel around 10 p.m. Monday, Beverly Hills police Sgt. Brian Balleweg said.
Balleweg estimated about 30 protestors laid down, their actions causing “nothing more than a little inconvenience for some people out there driving.”
“It was a very peaceful protest,” Balleweg said.
The rump of the Leimert Park-110 Freeway protest group moved onto police headquarters on West First Street. An officer at the scene estimated 150 of his colleagues, all wearing riot helmets, were there to greet them, and put the number of protestors at around 100. A news videographer at the scene reported seeing a person being handcuffed by officers.
Two further protests are planned for later today. One will involve students and faculty from the Claremont Colleges, the Daily Breeze newspaper reported, and will start at 10 a.m.
Another has been arranged by the Youth Justice Coalition to start at the intersection of Crenshaw and King Boulevards at 3 p.m.