Eric Garner 'Chokehold' Protests Turn Violent In Berkeley and Seattle

( [email protected] ) Dec 08, 2014 01:40 PM EST
Police tangle with protesters in Berkeley, California. Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Despite promises of a peaceful protest following a no-indictment ruling of a white police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man, a march in Berkeley, California and Seattle, Washington turned violent as protesters smashed windows and assaulted police.

For the second night in a row, police and protesters clashed in Berkeley. Police fired tear gas canisters as the crowd after being targeted by alleged explosives, but protesters continued swarming to block freeway overpasses in two locations across the city. Six arrests have been made as of Monday morning, with over 500 people protesting throughout the California city.

When a grand jury decided not to indict police officer Daniel Panteleo for the choking death of Eric Garner, many across the country rose up to protest the decision during a particularly sensitive time just after the same outcome was seen for the shooting death of unarmed black citizen Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson.

But despite the violence and property damage that erupted after the Brown ruling in Ferguson, Missouri, many vowed not to repeat the same type of protests, which some believed sent the wrong message.

"I think everybody knows my father wasn't a violent man and they're going to respect his memory by remaining peaceful," Garner's son, 18-year-old Eric Snipes said after the grand jury's decision was revealed. "It's not going to be like it was there."

Eric Garner died from a chokehold procedure that was banned by the New York City Police Department in 1993. The Staten Island death resulted in the suspension of police officer Daniel Panteleo and demotions for others involved, yet a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Panteleo based on evidence provided.

Although the demonstrations went on peacefully since Thursday with thousands of protesters in several major U.S. cities, this is the first time violence or property damage has been seen.

Reports came in that a "splinter group" broke off from the peaceful demonstrators in Berkeley to loot local businesses and assault police officers with rocks, bricks, bottles, pipes, and other objects. One officer was treated for a dislocated shoulder after a sandbag was thrown at him while other officers sustained minor injuries.

In Seattle, those attending an otherwise nonviolent gathering started throwing rocks at police on Sunday evening where seven arrests were made. Protesters in Miami shut down a thoroughfare on Interstate 195, while church-related protesters filled the streets of Chicago for peaceful gatherings.

During Sunday's usual football games, several NFL players, including Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush, wore pre-game practice jerseys showing the phrase "I Can't Breathe." As shown on several eyewitness videos taken of Garner's apprehension and death, those were his last dying words while struggling with police. The three-word phrase has become a moniker for supporters through signs, apparel, and online with the hashtag #icantbreathe.

Al Sharpton has announced plans for a larger organized protest in Washington D.C. on Saturday to protest the killings of Brown, Garner, and others who have been killed at the hands of police.