What began as a peaceful protest against police brutality at the University of California, Berkeley campus turned violent after crowds attempted to march on the Berkeley Police Department headquarters, Berkeleyside reports.
Police were out in force to deal with those who were protesting the recent failure by grand juries in New York City and Ferguson to indict officers whose actions led to the deaths of unarmed black men.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonGlobal) December 7, 2014
The protests were largely peaceful — there are multiple reports of 5 to 10 men wearing black masks hurling objects at officers and into store windows — but as the night lingered on, police began ordering the protesters to disperse.
Berkeley Police Department spokeswoman Jenn Coats said that “Berkeley Police used smoke and tear gas after crowds refused to disperse and continued to vandalize local businesses and pelt officers with rocks, bottles, and pipes. Numerous police vehicles were vandalized as the crowd moved through the south campus area.”
When the protesters refused to disperse, the police began to force them to. In this video, police officers can be seen attempting to herd protesters — occasionally via force — into smaller, more manageable groups:
Here, police can be seen firing tear gas, unprovoked, at peaceful protesters:
By 11 p.m., police were tweeting residents to take shelter to avoid the tear gas:
Residents in area of Telegraph corridor, shelter inside to avoid exposure to tear gas.
— Byron White (@BPDOffcWhite) December 7, 2014
Police claim that the tear gas and rubber bullets were necessary, as protesters had hurled bricks, pipes, smoke grenades and, in one case, “a large sandbag” at officers.
The protest eventually died down at about 3 a.m., but protesters called upon their supporters to meet Sunday at 1 p.m. on the Berkeley campus to organize a response to the night’s violence.