People protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody march in San Jose, Calif., Friday, May 29, 2020.
Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group via AP
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Hundreds of people marched through the capital of Silicon Valley and temporarily shut down a five-lane section of highway Friday to protest the killing of an African American man by a white Minneapolis police officer.
Video footage showed vehicles at a virtual standstill on the southbound lanes of U.S. 101 in San Jose ahead of rush hour during a pandemic that has kept many Californians home. Protesters left the highway after an hour in what was largely a peaceful demonstration.
It came a day after nine people were arrested after rocks were thrown at businesses, vehicles and officers during a Southern California protest stemming from the death of George Floyd, authorities said. Small demonstrations occurred elsewhere throughout California and around the nation.
The violence erupted Thursday night in the city of Fontana, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, as about 100 people moved up and down a local thoroughfare, a police statement said.
An unlawful assembly was declared around 9 p.m., and the crowd was ordered to disperse. But some continued to block traffic and throw rocks at officers, police said. It took about an hour to disperse the demonstrators. The damage included broken windows at City Hall.
Rep. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, Fontana’s mayor and San Bernardino County supervisors condemned the violence and called it counterproductive.
“Everyone involved has a right to be angry. But channeling that anger to destroy property only harms our own hard-working community members,” Torres said.
Mayor Acquanetta Warren had attended the largely peaceful protest. In a statement, she said the crowd “got hijacked by people who decided to throw rocks at innocent drivers and police officers who were simply doing their jobs.”
In San Jose, about 300 protesters marched from City Hall through downtown before moving to the highway. Some protesters surrounded vehicles stopped as part of the march, but they also allowed some drivers to squeak by on a shoulder. Some were holding signs seeking justice for Floyd; others said “Black Lives Matter.”
California Highway Patrol spokeswoman Alicia Moreno told KGO-TV that officers planned to escort protesters off the highway, given the potential for injury. Protesters started leaving the highway peacefully around 4 p.m.
The death of the 46-year-old Floyd, who was recorded on video pleading for air as an officer knelt on his neck, has shocked the country, including police officers who are usually inclined to withhold comment.
The police officers’ unions of San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco issued a joint statement Thursday condemning the actions of the Minneapolis officers.
“What we saw on that video was inconsistent and contrary to everything we have been taught, not just as an academy recruit or a police officer, but as human beings,” the statement read. “We are equally disturbed by not seeing any of the other officers on scene intervene to prevent this tragedy.”
Elsewhere, demonstrators gathered outside police headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. But there was no repeat of Wednesday evening’s action in which protesters blocked traffic on a freeway and attacked two California Highway Patrol cruisers, smashing windows.
Another group marched from police headquarters in suburban Santa Monica to an LAPD station in adjacent Venice.
In Minnesota, demonstrators torched a Minneapolis police station.
The officer, Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the case Friday.