Protesters flood California highway, throw rocks, bottles at officers, police say

Willie Grace | 12/8/2014, 9:40 a.m. | Updated on 12/8/2014, 9:40 a.m.
Some threw explosives, bottles and rocks at officers, authorities said. Highway Patrol Sgt. Diana McDermott said it wasn't clear what ...
They burned St. Louis Rams football jerseys after five players ran onto the field last weekend making the "hands up, don't shoot" gesture, CNN affiliate KSDK reported.

(CNN) -- From the streets of California to the stores of New York City, protesters are making sure no one forgets the case of Eric Garner.

But some are doing so more violently than others.

Demonstrators flooded a highway in Oakland, California, late Sunday night, prompting a heated standoff in the freeway between protesters and the California Highway Patrol.

Some threw explosives, bottles and rocks at officers, authorities said. Highway Patrol Sgt. Diana McDermott said it wasn't clear what type of explosives were thrown, but she said some in the crowd had Molotov cocktails and M-80 firecrackers.

Officers responded by deploying gas and arresting eight protesters. In the end, two officers suffered minor injuries.

Gurpreet Heer, a student at the nearby University of California, Berkeley, said he saw people throwing glass and rocks at police.

"People were vandalizing police cars and jumping on the cars," Heer said.

Police said five patrol cars were damaged.

In the city of Berkeley, protests spilled into Monday morning. Some protesters looted and vandalized businesses, police spokeswoman Jennifer Coats said.

One protester was struck in the head with a hammer when he tried to keep fellow protesters from damaging and looting a Radio Shack, she said. The man was hospitalized, but his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Two Berkeley officers also suffered minor injuries. Coats said five people were arrested, but she did not know the charges.

The acts of violence were apparent anomalies in a sea of protests nationwide decrying a grand jury's decision not to indict the officer who killed Garner, an unarmed black man.

Garner's last words -- "I can't breathe" -- have become a rallying cry for protesters denouncing police brutality, particularly against unarmed black men.

The grand jury's decision Wednesday not to indict New York City police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner's death came a week after a Missouri grand jury decided not to indict former Officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Caroling their grievances

Some demonstrators are getting more creative in delivering their message.

In New York, protesters at Penn Station sang "justice carols," such as these lyrics to the tune of "Little Drummer Boy":

"Help, he told them,

pa rum pum pum pum,

I cannot breathe, you see,

pa rum pum pum pum,

Our city's finest bring,

pa rum pum pum pum,

Death to this human being."

Hundreds of protesters also gathered at Grand Central Terminal and Macy's in Herald Square -- sites of multiple "die-ins" over the past few days -- before barging through the nearby Toys R Us to lie on the floor en masse.

One young couple made the event a family affair, lying on the floor with their toddler between them.

"What's happening in these cities in these last several days is incredibly important to show we have a unified voice," said Judi Flournoy, who was participating in a New York protest.

While protesters chanted "Black lives matter," many of the demonstrators were not black.