Police arrested approximately 35 people during a protest tonight that traversed the city, a protest that at times blocked traffic and disrupted transit service. A group of about 150 protesters gathered at San Francisco’s Dolores Park around 5 p.m., and at about 6 p.m. began marching through the city’s Castro and Mission districts before arriving on Powell Street almost 90 minutes later.
The demonstration was in response to the fatal police shooting of 19-year-old Kenneth Harding Jr., who allegedly ran from police and fired shots after officers attempted to detain him while conducting a fare enforcement at a San Francisco Municipal Railway light-rail stop. Some of the protesters carried a banner reading “They can’t shoot us all,” and others chanted, “How do you spell murder? S-F-P-D.”
About two dozen police officers on foot and motorcycles, as well as in SUVs, were corralling the crowd as they marched through the Castro and blocked the group’s path down Church Street. The group changed course and arrived at the Muni station at Market and Castro streets, where they attempted to break Muni ticket machines, overturned garbage cans, and threw smoke bombs. Police said that the protesters vandalized a Bank of America at 18th and Castro streets.
When the group left the station, they marched past Dolores Park to the Police Department’s Mission Station at 17th and Valencia streets. One person threw a hammer at the station’s window but failed to cause any damage. Another attempted to splash the station in paint, and a third dropped a smoke bomb. The protesters headed toward downtown and marched east down Market Street toward the Civic Center station at about 7:15 p.m.
Market Street was mostly blocked in the area by a combination of the protesters and police. When the group arrived at Powell Street, police in riot gear rounded up about 20 people, including members of the media, and a police line surrounded a second, larger portion of the protesters.Some people were trapped inside the Blondie’s Pizza at 63 Powell St. as police tried to slow the group’s movements.
Police spokesman Office Albie Esparza said that police announced an unlawful assembly at about 7:45 p.m. and that approximately 35 protesters were arrested. During the protest, a CBS cameraman was assaulted, and Esparza said an arrest was also made in that incident. Esparza said that those arrested would be cited for failure to disperse after an unlawful assembly was declared.
Harding was shot at about 4:45 p.m. after running from officers who had taken him off a Muni light-rail vehicle at Third Street and Palou Avenue for suspected fare evasion, police said. During the chase, Harding allegedly pulled out a handgun and shot at pursuing officers, according to police. Two officers returned fire, striking Harding, who later died at a hospital. Harding, a Seattle resident, was also a parolee who was being sought as a person of interest in a homicide that occurred in that city last week.
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