Protesters upset over the grand jury decision not to prosecute a white police officer for the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old black man in Ferguson, Missouri, marched Tuesday through South Los Angeles to downtown, where they ran into a skirmish line of police and some marchers jumped on top of police cruisers.

There were no immediate reports of any arrests.

Some protesters carried signs with slogans such as “Not Anti-Cop; Anti- Brutality” and “Arrest Darren Wilson,” a reference to the Ferguson police officer who shot Michael Brown on Aug. 9, sparking months of protests in the St. Louis suburb.

The protesters, organized by the Youth Justice Coalition and other groups, amassed at Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards at about 3 p.m. and initially circled the intersection in crosswalks before moving into the center of the crossroad and bringing traffic to a halt.

A short time later, the group of about 150 people marched east on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, toward the Los Angeles Police Department’s Southwest station east of Western Avenue. The group briefly staged a sit-in at the MLK-Western intersection, with one person holding a sign reading “Shut it down.”

The group continued east to Figueroa Street, then turned north to Jefferson Boulevard, where it moved east underneath the Harbor (110) Freeway. Under cover of the freeway, some protesters jumped on patrol cars before the group moved east again, where it ran into a skirmish line of officers. After several minutes, the group moved back to the west.

On Jefferson west of the freeway, dozens of protesters surrounded a California Highway Patrol cruiser. After a tense few minutes, other officers moved in and the crowd slowly dispersed, allowing the driver of the patrol car to back away from the crowd.

Protesters then moved north on Figueroa again to Adams Boulevard, where they amassed in the intersection briefly before continuing their procession.

Officers appeared to be focused on keeping the crowd off of the freeway, in hopes of avoiding a repeat of a Monday night protest that brought freeway traffic to a stop.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck warned this morning that officers would respect peaceful protests, but would not tolerate people who break the law or try to disrupt freeway traffic.

“We want to make sure that everybody knows that we absolutely support the First Amendment,” Beck said. “We support people’s right to assemble and to lawfully speak out on issues that are of great concern to them. We will do that again tonight, and today.

“However, we cannot support — and we will not allow — people to use their rights to trample on the rights of others, and that includes such things as vandalism, violence, and in particular an incident that we had last night (of) going up on one of our freeways,” Beck said.

“Freeways are very dangerous places — even in a car — but as a pedestrian, they are extremely dangerous,” Beck said.

Three people were arrested during protests that erupted Monday night around Los Angeles in response to the Ferguson announcement. One person was arrested on suspicion of assault on a police officer, one for failure to disperse and one for public intoxication, Beck said.

Beck noted that officers fired some “less lethal” foam rounds to keep people from going onto freeways, and he warned that police were prepared to make arrests try to do the same today.

Protesters stopped northbound and southbound traffic on the Harbor (110) Freeway downtown for approximately 70 minutes Monday night and Tuesday morning, and also blocked lanes on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills for about 10 minutes.

Earlier Monday night, a smaller group of protesters tried to block lanes on the Santa Monica (10) Freeway near La Brea Avenue, but were chased away by California Highway Patrol officers.

Sgt. Ed Kinney of the LAPD’s Central Division said one of the protesters was arrested at the scene of the 110 freeway stoppage, and another at a later gathering on East First Street, in front of police headquarters.

A tactical alert, which requires that all officers remain at their posts beyond their shifts, was called early Monday afternoon after it was announced that the Ferguson decision was imminent, Kinney said. The alert was lifted at 3 a.m. today, but another tactical alert was called early this afternoon in anticipation of today’s marches.

City News Service

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