SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— San Francisco's police chief says 79 people in all were charged in connection with a protest at Union Square during Black Friday that turned violent.
At least five officers were injured in protests that disrupted the Union Square tree lighting ceremony, an event that attracts families and children as well as protests in the Mission.
Police Chief Greg Suhr said several people among the crowd vandalized buildings and attacked officers by throwing rocks and bottles.
"This march, if it ever was a First Amendment march, got hijacked by a criminal fringe element bent on destruction and criminal conduct. Were it not for the efforts of the officers and the leadership on the ground, it could have been far worse," Suhr said.
One of the injured officers was hit in the face with a tequila bottle when the march went in to the Mission District. The officer required stitches. Suhr said it wasn't known if the officer would be "permanently disfigured" or if he would need further surgery.
Chief Suhr showed off a table of confiscated items including a thick metal chain, bricks, rocks and bottles. No dollar amount was available for the damage done to Union Square stores. A Crate and Barrel store was said to have taken the brunt of it when a large window was shattered.
A group of mostly peaceful protesters with signs that read "Boycott Shops, Arrest Killer Cops" and "Black Lives Matter" marched down Market Street from Union Square and headed west. Muni lines were briefly affected. Some buses had to turn off and reroute.
The planned protests were coordinated to align with Black Friday shopping and some organized in light of last week's decision by a grand jury to not file charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen.
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