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FireWorks writes: From the blockading of Google buses to the blockading of major freeways. From riots against white supremacy and police in Oakland to anti-tech and gentrification brawls in San Francisco, 2014 was an explosive year. Battles erupted in a variety of places and around various issues. This year in review looks at some of the key struggles and outbreaks of rebellion that shook the bay area to its core.
In an unprecedented civil disobedience action on December 15, a multi-racial group of activists calling for an end to the "war on black people" shut down Oakland police headquarters. The doors of the building were physically locked down preventing police egress to or from the building and a "Black Lives Matter" flag was hung from a flagpole for hours, while others used lockboxes to block traffic on Broadway. As word of the action spread, around 200 supporters gathered, chanted, and blocked side streets in solidarity. Twenty-five protesters were arrested.
On December 13, community members in Santa Cruz joined people across the country for a national day of protest against police violence. The focus of the protests have primarily been on the police killings of three black individuals, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, which all came to national attention in 2014.
On the heels of nearly two weeks of protests in the East Bay spurred by the Ferguson grand jury decision, demonstrations escalated when the Eric Garner grand jury decision was announced on December 3 in New York City. Nightly since December 6, hundreds have taken to the streets of Berkeley to protest for justice, shutting down highways along the way, with marches reaching through Oakland and Emeryville as well. CHP and Berkeley police have responded aggressively, with hundreds of demonstrators arrested, beaten, and/or injured.
As expected, the grand jury tasked with determining if there was enough evidence for charging Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown determined that there wasn’t probable cause. That night, on November 24, people in Ferguson and across the country began to rise up for Mike Brown and blocked freeways, city streets, and more. Fires were set, merchandise taken from stores, and, on Black Friday, BART was disrupted in West Oakland and shopping centers shut down in San Francisco. Protests continued throughout the week, culminating on the annual Black Friday shopping day and continuing into the weekend.
On November 12, activists with the Bay Area Rasmea Defense Committee chained themselves to doors of the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland to protest the conviction and imprisonment of 67-year-old Palestinian community organizer Rasmea Odeh. Odeh was convicted on Monday, November 10th in a Detroit federal court of knowingly lying on her immigration application. Hundreds were present in court to support Odeh over the course of her trial in Detroit and across the country solidarity demonstrations have been held demanding that she be freed.
Salinas Police have reported that Jaime Garcia, age 35, died after one of their officers tased him during an attempted arrest on Halloween. According to an SPD press release, the five officers involved in the incident were put on administrative leave during the "initital stages" of the investigation. The death of Garcia is the fifth death to occur at the hands of Salinas Police in 2014.