Large crowds have held daily demonstrations in several US cities since a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner. The New York City medical examiner had ruled that Mr. Garner’s death was a homicide, caused by a chokehold and compression of his chest during an attempted arrest, as reported by The New York Times.
The death of Garner and the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri in August, have escalated tense relations between police and black Americans and have resumed a national debate over race relations.
Several hundred people rushed onto Interstate 80 in the college town of Berkeley near San Francisco on Monday night, disrupting traffic in both directions.
Police fired tear gas after being targeted by what they called “explosives”. They moved in to clear roadways as protesters circled freeway overpasses at two locations in Berkeley. Protesters threw rocks and other objects at officers, resulting in more than 150 people being arrested, mostly for resisting or obstructing an officer.
Earlier, dozens of protesters stopped an Amtrak train in the town by lying on the tracks or sitting on a sofa placed across the line. Outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, a group of about 300 protesters blocked streets and chanted, "I can't breathe," in memory of Eric Garner, and "Hands up, don't shoot," a reference to Brown's death.
Travis Morales, a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party, said at the gathering that “America must be brought to a halt.”
Demonstrators, he stated, must make it clear that “this holiday season, we have nothing to celebrate, nothing to be thankful for. As long as this continues to be business as usual, there can be no business as usual,” as reported Reuters.