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Charlotte Area News

4 Arrested, Others Pepper-Sprayed During Protest Against Republican Convention

David Boraks

Altercations broke out between police and protesters in uptown Charlotte Friday night during the first night of demonstrations against the 2020 Republican National Convention. Police say four people were arrested, and multiple people were pepper-sprayed.

The protest was organized by the group Charlotte Uprising, and began in Marshall Park at 8:30 p.m. before moving into the streets of uptown Charlotte, not far from where 336 Republican delegates were scheduled to hold a series of business meetings this weekend ahead of the official start of the Republican National Convention on Monday.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say the group of about 60 protesters began marching through uptown at 9 p.m., and briefly disrupted light rail service after marching onto tracks at College Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Sometime before 11 p.m., tensions between police and protesters escalated when officers began pushing the crowd out of the intersection of Trade and Tryon with bicycles. In a statement posted on Twitter, CMPD said officers were attempting to "allow for traffic to flow."

A livestream by local alternative newspaper Queen City Nerve captured officers forming a line with bikes and pushing protesters out of the intersection. Some protesters were pepper-sprayed during the incident.

Minutes later, the scene turned to chaos after a man appeared to spit at the line of police, as seen in footage captured by the Queen City Nerve. As officers ran after the man, skirmishes broke out among remaining police and protesters.

Officers were filmed firing more pepper spray at nearby protesters. Among those hit with pepper spray was journalist Ryan Pitkin with the Queen City Nerve. In a statement to media outlets, police said protesters had begun to "intentionally interfere" as officers were making arrests, and that pepper spray was deployed against those interfering.

Three people were arrested and charged with assaulting a government official and resisting arrest. They were identified as Nolan Strout, 23; Antonio Marotta, 21; and Olivia Turley, 19. Earlier in the night, police also arrested and charged 23-year-old William Gissentaner with impeding traffic, disorderly conduct, and resisting a public officer.

Friday night's protest was the first of a series of demonstrations planned this weekend against the Republican National Convention. Charlotte Uprising is also holding protests Saturday and Sunday night, beginning in Marshall Park, and a "Resist RNC 2020" block party is planned for Monday, also in Marshall Park.