Protesters, Police Had A Plan For Nighttime Activism
Some did take to the streets of uptown last night to protest the mistrial. We sent WFAE’s Tom Bullock to report on what happened.
Warning: The audio in this report contains an offensive word.
These protesters were younger and more aggressive than the marchers who snarled traffic earlier in the day. And it was easy to tell they felt they were in charge as they walked down the middle of streets weaving in between cars yelling things like "No justice – no peace. No justice – no peace."
"F--- the police."
Dozens of officers were nearby, not in riot gear or police cars, but on bicycles. They flanked the protest. Though there were plenty of officers in riot gear alwaysy nearby – just out of view waiting to block a road, or access to an area deemed off limits. The protesters complied, some instructing "Go around, do not touch them."
The protesters went from BB&T Ballpark, to the Epicenter, the transit center and back to the ballpark. Some banged their hands on the sides of busses, slapping the doors and windows of cars.
Some drivers rolled down their windows to cheer. Other drivers sat frozen, staring straight ahead as if they feared eye contact would pull them into a mess they couldn’t get out of.
These protests were largely non-violent. CMPD report some protesters threw rocks at officers. None were seriously injured. Two protesters were arrested. But for the most part, police watched what happened. An example:
One young man jumped on the hood of a Toyota – then ran over the windshield and roof before jumping off. An officer moved in, but a colleague grabbed him by the arm just before a larger confrontation began.
There were some in the crowd who seemed prepared for the situation to escalate. One protester wearing a Guy Fawlkes mask carried an aluminum baseball bat, which he beat on the ground a few feet from a line of riot police.
"Hey brother," A young African-American man dressed in a restaurant uniform called out to get his attention. He was close in age to the African American protester. He told the protester he understood the frustration, but not the need for something easily seen as a potential weapon.
These protesters were angry. The tensions at times were high. But these protesters had a plan – no physical confrontations with police. They largely held to that plan. The police had a plan as well – allow protesters to vent. Which they did.