- Associated Press - Monday, May 25, 2015

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Police made arrests as demonstrators marched in downtown Oakland against the city’s new get-tough policy for monitoring street protests - the second such gathering in as many days.

Officers watched closely Sunday night as the protesters marched several blocks. About 100 to 150 people marched before organizers ended the event and then a group of 15 to 20 started another protest, spokeswoman Johnna A. Watson said.

There were no reports of injury or vandalism Sunday, but four people were arrested and another 19 received citations, Watson said.

A night earlier, dozens of protesters were arrested or cited for ignoring police orders to dispurse.

They turned out to oppose a new policy by the city’s mayor to force protesters from the street to the sidewalk after Oakland experienced several violent demonstrations in the past year, The Oakland Tribune reported Sunday. Oakland has hosted rallies in the streets for years, but Mayor Libby Schaaf said the new policy is needed to combat damage to property and violence.

Schaaf said earlier that existing policies and laws allow police to clear streets of protesters. On May Day, many businesses along the city’s automobile sales district were badly damaged by protesters who broke away from the main demonstration on May 1. Businesses also sustained heavy damage during protests arising from the deaths of unarmed black men in police custody in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere over the last two years.

Tensions rose anew on Thursday when protesters marched in honor of black women killed by police across the nation. But organizers said they were surprised when Oakland police pushed them off the streets and onto the sidewalks, citing the mayor’s new policy. No one was arrested Thursday.

Organizers then called for another protest Saturday to demonstrate against the new policy.

“You can’t run roughshod over people because they’re protesting your oppression,” said Cat Brooks, an organizer of both protests. “You can’t push us off the streets.”

Further protests over the new policy are planned, Brooks said.

Rachel Lederman, a lawyer with the National Lawyers Guild who helped Oakland craft its crowd-control policies, said the new tactics appear to violate the guidelines.

“It doesn’t make any sense because saying that marches have to be on the sidewalk has absolutely no relationship to impending property damage that might occur,” Lederman said. “Obviously, that would happen on a sidewalk, not a street.”

The mayor didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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