Los Angeles

8 Arrested After Ferguson Protests in Westlake District

Video from the scene showed protesters lying down on the ground in the middle of an intersection

Los Angeles police on Friday night arrested eight protesters in the Westlake District after a group ran into traffic despite orders to stay on the sidewalk, disperse or be taken into custody.

A group of 50 to 100 protesters marched at Alvarado Street near Beverly Boulevard, where police blocked the intersection near the 101 Freeway as crowds chanted "Let us go."

"We are peaceful protesters who demand justice for our rights in the streets," one person shouted. "Over 300 people have been arrested ... What is going on?"

The day of demonstrations on Black Friday marked the latest in a string of gatherings across the city in the wake of a grand jury's decision not to indict a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown.

"We think today is just another example of how the LAPD is continuing to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of protesters," said Betty Hung of the National Lawyers Guild.

"No one is out here damaging any property," Jasmine Richards said. "We're out here to voice our opinions, to voice our frustrations, to voice our anger."

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said Friday's demonstrators were running into the street and blocking motorists, despite being told repeatedly to remain on the sidewalk. Video from the scene showed a group in the middle of the street, some lying down on the ground in the intersection.

"When the crowd starts to break the law and starts to engage in unlawful behavior -- stopping traffic, committing acts of vandalism, terrorizing motorists that are trying to get home -- then we have to put a stop to that," Smith said.

Police arrested eight people, including five for disobeying a traffic officer, two for outstanding warrants and one for battery on a police officer.

The protests put the LAPD on another citywide tactical alert and come after a Wednesday night demonstration in downtown LA that left dozens behind bars on Thanksgiving Day.

Some activists and demonstrators who were among those arrested Wednesday night held a news conference Friday afternoon to accuse Los Angeles police of putting them in handcuffs for no reason and without warning. Meanwhile, LAPD officials have maintained that the protesters were warned more than once about potential arrests.

About 379 people have been arrested in Los Angeles this week as a result of the protests, Smith said.

Beverly White contributed to this report.

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