Berkeley Protesters shut down I-80, March into Emeryville near Powell Exit
Last Tuesday, protesters originating from Downtown Oakland marched through North Oakland and into Emeryville breaking windows at the Subway franchise on 40th & San Pablo before being dispersed. Last night, an estimated 1,500 protesters from Berkeley marched from downtown through University Ave to Highway 80, shutting down both lanes of traffic and appeared to be marching toward the Bay Bridge before being “kettled” by CHP into the parking lots behind The Marriot Courtyard and Powell Street Plaza.
A tense night for all E’villains as news and police helicopters covering the footage circled Emeryville as Police units could be seen and heard mobilizing throughout the city in anticipation of a massive confrontation. The evening began in Berkeley as protesters of the events in Ferguson, MO and Staten Island marched through downtown for a third straight evening. The crowds then proceeded West across University Avenue toward the I-80 on-ramp. After trying unsuccessfully to breach the highway barriers there, protesters were able to successfully storm the highway from the Aquatic Park and I-80 Bike/Pedestrian Bridge area (Featured prominently are Councilmember Donahue’s “Berkeley Big People” sculptures honoring the very Berkeley protest spirit).
— Berkeleyside (@berkeleyside) December 9, 2014
The crowds stopped vehicles in both directions, causing a massive traffic jam with ribbons of tail-lights stretching for miles. Some protesters reportedly threw rocks and other objects before Police were able to successfully clear the freeway around 10 p.m. Around 150 people were arrested in the process with charges mostly involving resisting arrest. The events of the evening unfolded through embedded reporters from Berkeleyside, other local news agencies, the protesters themselves and residents who tweeted and instagrammed their encounters using the hashtags #BerkeleyProtests & #ICantBreathe (Eric Garner’s haunting last words).
CHP, outfitted in riot gear with support by officers from around the East Bay and as far as Vacaville & Fairfield, were able to prevent the marching crowds from reaching the MacArthur maze causing them to exit the on-ramps at Powell and spill over the northbound barriers along Highway 80. Some protesters headed East from the Aquatic park and blocked the railroad tracks at 65th & Shellmound and some were kettled into the parking lots behind The Marriott Courtyard Hotel and The Powell Street Plaza Mall. It is here that a standoff off occurred as officers cordoned off other areas of Emeryville. EPD set up perimeters at Shellmound at Christie & Ohlone Way to prevent protesters from entering The Bay Street Shopping Mall area and avoid the potential looting that a fringe element of the protesters had capitalized on throughout the nearly monthlong series of East Bay protests.
The evening concluded at approximately 2AM with the few protesters that remained processed in a detainment bus that was parked at the Powell Street Plaza. Minor damage could be seen throughout parts of Emeryville including vandalism and a few scorched dumpsters and bins.
[UPDATE] Cosmic Cycles on San Pablo sustained three broken windows according to their Instagram Feed. Unclear if anything was stolen:
Early reports have the protesters mobilizing again tonight with intentions of disrupting a scheduled Berkeley City Council meeting. It is unclear if they will make another attempt to “take the bridge”. Emeryville’s force of 39 sworn and 30 active officers will be prepared according to spokesman Brian Head: “We’re preparing for any possible civil disruption this evening by holding officers over this evening and calling in a shift on their day off.”