California protests turn violent
Police clashed with protesters in California on the fourth night of demonstrations across the United States against recent killings of African American suspects by white police in the United States.
Protesters in Berkeley, California, threw bricks, rocks and pipes at police, who fired tear gas and smoke canisters to quell the crowds. Several officers were injured, and buildings and cars were vandalised or looted, said police spokeswoman Jennifer Coats. “Several splinter groups broke off and began hurling bricks, pipe, smoke grenades, and other missiles at officers. Numerous officers were struck, and one officer was struck with a large sandbag and treated at a local hospital for a dislocated shoulder,” Coats told AFP.
The angry demonstration took place hours after mourners gathered at the New York funeral of an unarmed black man shot dead by police in New York on November 20. Akai Gurley, 28, father of a two-year-old daughter, was killed when a police officer opened fire in a dimly lit staircase at a Brooklyn apartment building where he was walking with his girlfriend.
Friends and relatives filed past Gurley’s open gray casket to pay their respects at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church, before the lid was closed and a huge spray of red and white flowers was placed on top of it. Gurley, whose mother lived in Florida, had been planning a surprise Thanksgiving trip to introduce her to his daughter last month when he was killed. Mourners heard a rallying cry for justice at Gurley’s funeral. Activist Kevin Powell, who delivered the eulogy, thanked Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city of New York for covering the costs of the funeral and issued a passionate plea for change.
“Akai was innocent, innocent, innocent. This is modern-day lynchings, over and over again. Akai Gurley was simply the latest victim of this,” he said, calling for homicide charges to be brought. He demanded police reform and spoke of the recent protests that have mobilised thousands of people across the United States to denounce a spate of killings of unarmed black men by white police officers. “Let’s do everything we can to prevent any more situations like this,” he said. Rev Clinton Miller echoed the call, saying clergy and activists would work together to ensure that justice would prevail.
“We ask that you would allow brother Akai’s name to live forever in our hearts as we continue to fight for what’s right in this country and this world. We will all work together to pursue justice,” he said.
The Brooklyn district attorney announced on Friday a grand jury would consider charges in one of the cases which has again brought to the fore the distrust felt by many African Americans towards the police.
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