Zimmerman protests stay mostly calm in California

A picture of protests in San Francisco on June 13, 2013, from Twitter user @LisaMcIntire Twitter user @LisaMcIntire

SAN FRANCISCO Protesters angered by the acquittal of George Zimmerman held largely peaceful demonstrations in at least three California cities, but broke windows and started small street fires in Oakland, police said. There were also reports of small, largely peaceful demonstrations in cities across the country.

The gatherings Saturday night in California ranged from a few dozen to a couple hundred people turning out to protest the verdict in the Florida courtroom over the death of Trayvon Martin, and police said some of the demonstrations continued into the early hours Sunday.

The Oakland police dispatch office said about 100 people protested, with some in the crowd breaking windows on businesses and starting small fires in the streets. As the protest wound down with the crowd dispersing, the office said that as of 2 a.m. PDT it had no word of any arrests.

Local media reports said some Oakland marchers vandalized a police squad car and police formed a line to block the protesters' path.

The Oakland Tribune said some windows on the newspaper's downtown offices were broken, and footage from a television helicopter show people attempting to start fires in the street and spray painting anti-police graffiti.

Protesters also reportedly burned an American and a California state flag and spray painted Alameda County's Davidson courthouse.

The Oakland demonstration followed a raucous but largely peaceful one in San Francisco. Police say officers escorted demonstrators as they marched on the city's Mission District. The group was dispersed by 10 p.m.

The verdict also sparked protests in Los Angeles, where demonstrators gathered in Leimert Park, the city's historically black neighborhood.

Police said that about 200 protesters gathered for what they termed a peaceful vigil.

City News Service said that at one point a smaller group stopped an Expo Line train as police urged them to return to the nearby park. But police couldn't immediately confirm that report.

The protests prompted the Los Angeles Police Department to call for a Citywide Tactical Alert, police officials said, but by about 1 a.m. it was scaled back to a South Bureau Tactical Alert.

There were unconfirmed reports on Twitter that protesters had begun throwing bottles at motorcycle officers, CNS reports.

Lt. Andy Neiman of the LAPD Media Relations Department said another group of 50 to 100 demonstrators started marching around midnight.

"There was a period where crowds were running among vehicles, but police dissuaded them," he said.

Neiman said he knew of no arrests.

Officials said police called in officers from around the city to keep a watch on demonstrators.

More than 40 people gathered at Sacramento City Hall, and the Sacramento Bee reported that protesters chanted: "What do we want? Justice. When do you we want it? Now. For who? Trayvon."

A banner behind speakers read, "No justice, no peace!"

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