Demonstrators arrested in Los Angeles while protesting the Ferguson grand jury’s decision earlier this week were released from jail during Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday even if they hadn’t posted bail, according to officials and protesters.
Some 338 people had been arrested in Los Angeles as protestors took to the streets of downtown for three straight days after a Missouri grand jury declined to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
On Wednesday night, 130 protesters were taken into custody after Los Angeles police declared an “unlawful assembly” when the crowd failed to disperse near West Sixth and South Hope streets (map) around 8 p.m.
“They engaged in unlawful behavior, running in and out of traffic … became a very dangerous scenario for the motorists who are driving in that area,” Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Andy Neiman said Wednesday night.
“So they were detained … and they were ordered to disperse and not to reassemble and engage in any unlawful behavior, or they would be subject to arrest,” he added. “They chose not to abide by those orders.”
The protesters were lined up and loaded onto buses that were brought in to take them to jail. Because of the large number of arrests made, they were transported to several different locations for processing, according to Neiman.
As of Thursday morning, about 90 people remained in police custody in three different jails, according to LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith.
They were all expected to be released on Thanksgiving by dinner time, Smith said. Jailed protesters with outstanding warrants would not be released.
“We want them to be with their families, we want them to have a good Thanksgiving, and we want everything to remain peaceful,” Sgt. Brian Valle said.
Earlier in the day, one of the arrested demonstrators expressed anger over how he claimed the group was taken into custody and treated.
“They illegally detained us for no reason,” said the unidentified man. “I was just walking down the street. We were all on the sidewalks and they detained us inside of that sidewalk … and they would not let us leave. And after about an hour, they handcuffed us and took us in buses and then to jail.”
He told KTLA he wanted to file a class-action lawsuit against LAPD over the incident.
Another demonstrator, Rod Harris-Wright, alleged the arrestees were “inhumanely” treated following what he described as a “peaceful protest.”
“We were forced into the street and barricaded on all four sides by riot police. After being barricaded, they asked us to sit down and took us one-by-one into a bus that held about 30 people with no windows, no air conditioning,” said Harris-Wright. “We sat in that bus for about 3 1/2 hours waiting to be processed.”
Another man, who did not give his name, also told KTLA that he waited on a bus for more than three hours, and that they “could barely breathe in there.”
According to Harris-Wright, after getting off the bus, he was sent to a holding cell where he waited for another six hours until he was processed.
“And then we were held for 24 hours with no bail or right to leave whatsoever,” he claimed.
KTLA reached out to LAPD for comment over the allegations and did not immediately hear back.
In all, more people were arrested in L.A. in connection with Ferguson-related protests than every other major city in the U.S. that held demonstrations, the Los Angeles Times reported.
KTLA’s Steve Kuzj, Jennifer Thang and Ashley Soley-Cerro contributed to this report.