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Education protesters arrested in Northridge and Oakland [Updated]

March 4, 2010 |  8:42 pm

A day of largely peaceful rallies against cuts in education funding Thursday was disrupted in Los Angeles and Oakland when police and protesters clashed, shutting down roads and freeways as officers made arrests.

In Oakland, at least 150 people were arrested after protesters stormed Interstate 880 and I-980 near downtown about 5 p.m., blocking traffic for about an hour. One man was seriously injured when he jumped from a freeway overpass and landed on the street, the Oakland Police Department said.

At least four people were arrested in Northridge when marchers sat down and blocked the intersection of Prairie Street and Reseda Boulevard about 5:45 p.m., authorities said.

One of those arrested was a faculty member at Cal State Northridge, said Vance Peterson, a university spokesman.

The Northridge arrests capped a day of demonstration that began earlier with a rally on campus. By 4 p.m., the group of protesters had grown to about 400 people. "It was all very orderly," Peterson said.

A small group of protesters left the campus and began to block the intersection. Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department responded and monitored the group for about an hour before making the arrests, Peterson said.

The gathering in Oakland, where more than 1,000 people converged on City Hall, was also peaceful until a group broke off and began heading toward the freeways several blocks away, Officer Jeff Thomason said.

The injured man was taken to a hospital and was expected to survive, Thomason said. The man's name and age were not released.

The protesters ran into the lanes blocking northbound traffic on I-980 Freeway and southbound traffic on I-880. "We're lucky that no one was hit" by vehicles, Thomason said.

[Updated at 10:22 p.m.: Five people were arrested after the Cal State Northridge protest, officials said. University President Jolene Koester said in a statement that she supported the peaceful rally but was "disturbed and saddened" by the small group of protesters who blocked the intersection.]

-- Robert J. Lopez