Story updated 6:20 p.m., Nov. 26, 2014.

For the third straight night, hundreds of protesters marched in the downtown Los Angeles area Wednesday in response to a grand jury decision not to indict a white Missouri police officer who killed an unarmed black man.

The protest began at 3 p.m. at the federal courthouse in North Spring Street, with about 150 people. The group marched to Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, where protesters circled on the sidewalk.

Protesters then headed north on Main Street, apparently in hopes of reaching the Men’s Central Jail. The group staged a brief sit-in at the intersection of Cesar Chavez Avenue and Alameda Street, then walked along Cesar Chavez toward the jail complex.

Police met the protesters at Cesar Chavez and Vignes Street, blocking their path and prompting the group to turn around and head back down Cesar Chavez Avenue, possibly returning to the federal courthouse.

There were no immediate reports of any arrests.

Nine people were arrested earlier today after briefly blocking the southbound Hollywood (101) Freeway beginning about 9 a.m. The protesters stood in a line across the lanes, stopping traffic.

California Highway Patrol officers closed the northbound freeway as a precaution, and after a few minutes, the protesters were escorted to a nearby bus lane, where they were arrested by LAPD officers. All lanes were reopened after about a half-hour.

Around 12:30 a.m., about three dozen arrests were made near the intersection of South Flower and West Ninth streets, LAPD Officer Sara Faden said.

Other arrests were made overnight at various locations, most of them near West Temple Street and North Broadway before dawn — ending a marathon protest that began at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

In all, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said, there were 192 arrests Tuesday night and this morning: 167 for disturbing the peace; nine for blocking the southbound 101 Freeway; 15 juveniles for curfew violations; and one for felony battery on a peace officer — for allegedly hurling a frozen water bottle at an officer. The last arrestee was held on $25,000 bail, Beck said.

“The Los Angeles Police Department and the California Highway Patrol were extremely generous in allowing the expression of First Amendment activity,” Beck said at a late-morning news conference at police headquarters.

“We gave everybody … an opportunity to do what we thought they needed to do to put their point across,” Beck said. “But that only reaches certain limits, and when people reach those limits, then we have to take enforcement action. …

“It is very easy to demonstrate in the city of Los Angeles and not be arrested,” Beck said. “However, if you demand on being arrested, we will accommodate you. Our budget is constrained as all of you are aware. We try to work within that budget. But the city fathers and the city leadership understand that it’s necessary to police the city.

“My concerns are people are losing the tone of their message,” Beck said. “People that engage in disrupting the rights of others are very unlikely to make their message heard. People legitimately want to put forward a message based upon violence, police legitimacy, all of those things, (but) that message is sorely diluted by acts of extreme civil disobedience, which happened last night.

“We want to help people make their point,” Beck said. “Whether we agree with that point or not is immaterial. We respect the right of Americans to speak out, but we will not allow Americans to speak out in a way that infringes on the rights of others.”

The protests stemmed from a grand jury decision not to prosecute Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of 18- year-old Michael Brown.

Four people were arrested by the LAPD, and four others by California Highway Patrol officers Tuesday night after impromptu barricades were used to stop traffic on the 101 Freeway.

CHP Officer Kerri Rivas said large pieces of debris were used to block northbound and southbound lanes of the freeway downtown by Grand Avenue around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday. The lanes were re-opened by 9:45 p.m. Rivas said. Those arrested were part of a crowd of around 100 gathered on the freeway, Rivas said.

The group arrested at Ninth and Flower this morning were the remnants of a much larger march that had meandered through the southern section of downtown Tuesday night and early Wednesday.

Members of the group had briefly halted a northbound Metro train near the Pico station at West 12th and South Flower streets around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday.

—City News Service

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