otests over the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner turned violent in California late Sunday after demonstrators hurled “concrete objects,” attempted to set fire to a patrol car and blocked a freeway, authorities said. Officers used tear gas during protests involving as many as 500 people marching from Berkeley toward Oakland.
The demonstrators, many of whom were peaceful, chanted: “Turn it up, don’t turn it down. Shut it down for Michael Brown,” the name of the unarmed black teen fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Others chanted: “I can’t breathe” — the last words of Garner, who died in a chokehold after being wrestled to the ground by a police officer on Staten Island.
The California Highway Patrol said an “explosive” had been thrown at officers and tweeted pictures of what it said were “concrete objects” used as projectiles.
Eastbound lanes on Highway 24 were temporarily blocked and the CHP said drivers in the area had their “windows in the up position and doors locked.” The protests marked the fifth day of demonstrations following a grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer who killed Garner.
The march began at the University of California, Berkeley, at about 5 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET). Chancellor Nick Dirks called on students and staff to “help maintain calm on and around the campus.” Dirks said he hoped that “the anger expressed last night will, in the days ahead, be channeled into constructive, nonviolent action.”
As hundreds of protesters began marching through downtown Berkeley, the unrest that marked protests Saturday night was touched off again as someone smashed the window of a Radio Shack. When a protester tried to stop growing vandalism, he was hit with a hammer, Officer Jennifer Coats said.
Police said groups of protesters late Sunday began roaming through the downtown area, throwing trash cans into streets and lighting garbage on fire, smashing windows on buildings, and damaging and looting businesses. There also were reports of vandalism at City Hall.
There was no immediate word of any serious injuries. During the protests a day earlier, three police officers and a technician were hurt and six people were arrested when the protest turned unruly.
Elsewhere on Sunday, about 200 protesters and clergy members staged a “die-in” outside the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, following the Philadelphia Eagles’ NFL game against the Seattle. In Chicago, about 100 churches organized peaceful rallies throughout the day, while in Miami protesters marched onto Interstate 195, shutting down the road in both directions.
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