Newly released 911 calls reveal some seriously irate drivers forced to stop behind protesters on Interstate 5 in November.
The group of students walked onto the northbound I-5 near Nobel Drive to protest a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of black teen Michael Brown. The two dozen protesters, all in black, formed a line across all lanes just before 7 a.m. on Nov. 26, 2014.
When calls started pouring into California Highway Patrol 911 operators, callers were informative – helpful even.
One man even tried to offer CHP a way to get down to the protesters.
Caller: I was telling you if you guys wanted to get here quicker, if you just take Charmant Drive right where the Mormon temple is, all you do is hop a little 5-foot fence.
911 Operator: Yeah I don’t’ think we’re going to hopping a 5-foot fence though. Do you see any weapons?
Caller: No, but there are some very angry drivers, understandably.
But as people got later and later for work, their calls became less civil.
One person demanded justice.
Caller: I'm watching this craziness on the I-5 north at Nobel Drive. And as a citizen, I demand that they be arrested. They need to be taught a lesson.
Operator: All right, ma’am.
Caller: It ain’t ma’am. It’s sir.
Operator: Oh, I apologize. But we do have officers on the way and we do have San Diego police responding as well.
Caller: And you’re going to arrest them, right? They’re going to be arrested? They’re not going to just let ‘em be walking away. OK, they outta be arrested. As a citizen of California, they should be arrested!
Operator: OK sir, I don’t know. I’m not an officer. I’m an operator…
Caller: Well tell an officer they need to be arrested. If you need to transfer me to a sergeant, but they need to be arrested. This is B.S.! This is anarchy!
Their ire turned toward the operators, not just the pedestrians. Don’t worry. The operators handled it like champs.
Caller: Why are there no police officers on the 5 North?
Operator: The what?
Caller: Why are there no police officers on the 5 North and UTC? Why do we not have any police officers getting stupid people off the freeway and letting us go to work!
Operator: Thank you sir, you have a good day there.
Caller: Get them out here now!
To their relief, lanes were finally reopened about half an hour later, but not before some drivers had built up much ill will for the protesters.
The constant reminder from operators was "stay safe out there," surely praying no one would jump out of their car and attack the demonstrators.
A CHP spokeswoman said this incident was not typical for the department, and officers had to make sure the protesters were safely removed from the highway, which took some time.
Listen to the full 911 calls below: