ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta/AP) — Protesters filled the streets of Atlanta Tuesday in mostly peaceful opposition to the Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury decision, although some in the group broke windows in businesses along Peachtree Street and 21 were arrested.
Police Chief George N. Turner said most of the arrests were for failure to disperse when asked, but one person faces a weapons charge.
A large group of students walked from Morehouse College to the CNN Center in downtown, peacefully chanting, singing and waving signs. A group later gathered at Underground Atlanta. They were protesting the decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson.
But as the night wore on, some groups split off and tried to block the interstate where it meets downtown, and the chief said windows were broken at the Wells Fargo branch and Mehan’s Irish Pub. Windows in a patrol car and a taxi also were shattered, he said.
“I was sitting right there when they smashed the window. My wife was on the other side,” Jim Kelleher, a patron of the restaurant, told WGCL-TV.
“It’s not about that young man in Missouri,” said Kelleher. “They’re anarchists.”
At Underground Atlanta, a shopping area in the heart of the city, the crowds listened to speakers who urged them to put pressure on the justice system and waved signs with slogans including, “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop Killer Cops.”
Later, some of the protesters formed a chain and, with hands up, blocked cars from downtown onto Interstate 75/85. Television footage showed police trying to pull some away but they were persistent. Eventually all got off the interstate as about 50 state and local police cars surrounded the group. The gathering was billed as #shutitdownatl on posters.
An hour or so later, protesters had made their way to Peachtree Street and filled the intersections. Police wearing helmets and other gear led some people away in police van in handcuffs.
The protests came on the heels of demonstrations by thousands of people in several U.S. cities late Monday and all day Tuesday to protest the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer who on Aug. 9 killed Michael Brown, who was black.
Some Atlanta protesters who were marching shouted “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot.” It is in reference to some witnesses who said Brown’s hands were raised when he was shot.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in a statement urged everyone taking part in demonstrations to do so peacefully and also urged law enforcement to use restraint and respect the protesters’ right to assemble. In Ferguson, people burned buildings and looted stores after the decision was read.
The chief said Atlanta, the birthplace of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is accustomed to protests of all kinds and that it is important to let people express themselves. But a large police presence was there to react in case the protests turned out to be not peaceful, he said.
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