More NBA stars protest over police violence, hundreds march in California
BERKELEY, Calif./NEW YORK - Reuters
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center, Dec. 8. AP PhotoMore NBA players joined ongoing nationwide protests against police violence on Dec. 10 night and dozens of demonstrators again briefly blocked a Californian freeway.
The protests erupted last week after a grand jury decided not to charge a white New York police officer over the death in July of Eric Garner, an unarmed black father of six. The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, had held Garner in a chokehold.
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and other players donned T-shirts with the words "I CAN'T BREATHE" - Garner's last words in a widely watched video - while warming up at the Staples Center for a Dec. 10 night home game.
Their move came a night after Cleveland Cavalier standout LeBron James and others wore similar shirts before a game in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
The decision not to charge Pantaleo came roughly a week after a Missouri grand jury had failed to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting black teenager Michael Brown in August in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.
The two incidents have highlighted strained relations between police and black Americans and have rekindled a national debate in the United States over race relations
In Berkeley, California, a left-leaning city with a history of social activism, hundreds of people faced off against a line of officers in riot gear outside police headquarters on Dec. 9.
"All these incidents - it's not just one occurrence. And that's why I'm outraged," said protester Marsalis Johnson, 19, a bike mechanic from Berkeley.
"As a young black man I always feel like a target."
Dozens of demonstrators briefly made their way onto State Route 24 in nearby Oakland, snarling traffic before being pushed off by police. California Highway Patrol spokesman Daniel Hill said numerous protesters had been arrested on the freeway, though he gave no number.
A planned meeting of the Berkeley City Council was canceled earlier in the day after demonstrators vowed to shut it down. An area station of a regional commuter line was closed in what officials blamed on a "civil disturbance."
The previous night, more than 150 protesters were arrested around Berkeley after shutting down a major freeway and throwing rocks at police.
"Bridging the divide"
Footage broadcast by CNN also showed dozens demonstrating inside New York's Grand Central Terminal on Dec. 9.
New York Police Commissioner William Bratton vowed on Dec. 9 to repair relations with poor and minority communities, saying the department would retrain its members in nonviolent ways of making arrests.
On a day when New York police officers shot and killed a man who stabbed a rabbinical student from Israel in a Brooklyn synagogue - a shooting that Bratton said appeared justified - the commissioner admitted relations between his department and some communities were poor.
"The reality is that there is a divide between the police and some people in communities that need us most, but that divide can be bridged," Bratton told a New York business group. "The reality is that the people and the police can be partners."
The National Basketball Association said on Dec. 9 it would take no action against players, including LeBron James, for wearing the "I Can't Breathe," shirts.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he supports players voicing their opinions on social issues, but would prefer they abide by the rule that stipulates players wear clothing made by Adidas, the league's official apparel provider.