Black Lives Matter protesters return to the streets, condemn Dallas violence
Protesters marched again Saturday, July 9th in cities across the nation to decry police brutality after the killing of two African-American men by police this week.
In Washington, a group marched peacefully through downtown Saturday night, chanting, “We young. We strong. We marching all night on.” They temporarily shut down Rock Creek Parkway.
A CNN reporter estimated the group had about 400 people and covered a city block. The marchers moved across a large area of northwest Washington and headed toward the Georgetown neighborhood late in the night.
It was the third night of marches in Washington.
Marchers included a mixed-race couple carrying a sign that said, “Injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere,” and a little girl with her parents, wearing a white tank-top with the words “My life matters” written on it in marker.
Eugene Puryear, the march organizer, said the shooting of five police officers in Dallas on Thursday was tragic but inevitable because of police violence against African-Americans.
“We’re at a tipping point,” he said.
In Minnesota, 150-200 protesters shut down a section of Interstate 94, St. Paul spokesman Steve Linders said.
Protestors who’d been in front of the governor’s residence marched north along Lexington parkway, proceeding to the freeway on-ramp, Linders said. They ran past Minnesota State Patrol troopers, who were trying to block them from getting on the freeway.
Linders said he did not have any information on arrests.
In Atlanta, a group of protesters confronted police on the 17th Street bridge, over Interstates 75 and 85, then moved down Peachtree Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, into the Midtown business district.
Friday night, a large group that included rapper T.I. blocked a downtown Atlanta Interstate ramp.
Marchers also took to the streets Saturday night in Miami, with police saying Interstate 395 was shut down for a brief period. A reporter for CNN affiliate WPLG tweeted that demonstrators had blocked a major thoroughfare.
In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a large group of Black Lives Matter supporters walked to the Broward County Courthouse and then the county jail, where prisoners heard their shouts and tapped on windows in response, WPLG reported
The protests erupted initially after videos surfaced showing fatal police encounters with two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, in Louisiana and Minnesota, respectively.
Their deaths — along with those of several African-Americans before them — spurred anger and debate over the use of force by police and questions over racial profiling.
The protests came after a sniper killed five police officers during a demonstration in Dallas on Thursday.
Black Lives Matter condemned the Dallas attack, calling it a tragedy not just for those affected but also for the nation.
“Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it. (Thursday’s) attack was the result of the actions of a lone gunman,” the group said in a statement on its website. “To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible. We continue our efforts to bring about a better world for all of us.”
Protests have been held in cities across the country after the tragedy in Dallas:
Protesters in Rochester, New York, sat in the street chanting “black lives, black lives.” Some stood in front of police, who were wearing riot gear.
Video from CNN affiliate TWC News Rochester showed officers attempting to move protesters farther back as screams and arguments ensued. The protests resulted in approximately 74 arrests for disorderly conduct and two charges of resisting arrest, Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli told a news conference. No one was injured, he added.
In New York City, protesters and police shared a moment of silence Friday evening at Union Square.
“People want justice. People want systematic change. Because you know, killing back and forth, at the end of the day, is not going to solve the issue,” Gilbert Rosa, a protester, told CNN affiliate WABC.
It was a shared moment between the two groups, paying tribute to Sterling and Castile, but also the five officers who perished in the Dallas shootings.
“They are out there visibly in that blue uniform, and last night they were targeted for wearing that blue uniform. But they still go out there and do their job,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said.
Bratton ordered solo cops to double up Friday evening and pulled unarmed officers off the street during the protesting.
In Phoenix, confrontations broke out between protesters and police when police tried to block the crowd from marching onto the freeway by forming a human shield, according to a statement from the Phoenix Police Department.
It led to a tense standoff between the two sides as several protesters stood directly in front of the officers, raising both hands in the “don’t shoot” gesture, as shown in affiliate video.
Police deployed pepper balls to “move advancing demonstrators back.”
Affiliate video showed several protesters affected by the pepper spray covering their eyes and faces, sprawled on the ground in pain.
Protesters appeared to retaliate by screaming expletives and hurling rocks and other objects at the police. Three people were arrested for throwing rocks, police said. Six in Phoenix were reported injured due to falls or exposure to the pepper balls. No officers were injured, according to the city’s police.
As it neared midnight, the Phoenix crowd had mostly splintered off and a police helicopter hovered overhead, with a warning to go home.
In Baton Rouge, where Sterling was fatally shot Tuesday, 31 people were arrested Friday during a protest near police headquarters, said Colonel Michael Edmonson with the Louisiana State Police.
About 300 protesters faced officers in riot gear. Community leaders and local officials tried to calm down the crowd by forming a line between police and protesters. Tempers flared when several protesters hurled plastic bottles of water and cups of ice at police.
Most demonstrators dispersed later in the evening only after police agreed to pull away cops in riot gear and rifles.
Another demonstration was planned for Saturday evening, starting at City Hall and going with a police escort to Baton Rouge police headquarters.
The police department is already barricaded and Edmonson says police plan to help the demonstrators with “their freedom to organize peacefully.”
L.J. McNeely with Baton Rouge Police said staff are working 12-hour shifts in pairs and “on alert.”
“It’s not about being worried or scared, it’s about being aware,” McNeely said.
In San Francisco, people rallied at the waterfront, holding signs that read: “Stop racist police terror in the U.S.” They marched down a major street, closely watched by police officers, yelling: “If we don’t get no justice, we don’t get no peace.”
Hundreds demonstrated for hours on both sides of the Bay, marching toward San Francisco City Hall to protest police violence against African-Americans.
“All lives do matter, but at the end of the day it seems like it’s black people being killed more than any other races, every single day,” Vallejo resident Eric Green told CNN affiliate KGO.
Protesters in Oakland briefly blocked a highway Friday, stopping traffic on both sides.
In Atlanta, a crowd of people blocked a downtown Interstate ramp during a march organized by the NAACP.
About 2,000 people participated in the march, CNN staffers at the march estimated. They included rapper T.I., who posted photos and video clips from the scene.
The Georgia State Patrol arrested two people, according to Atlanta Police spokeswoman Elizabeth Espy.
The chant “no justice, no peace,” echoed through the streets of downtown Atlanta as protesters made their way from Centennial Olympic Park toward the highway.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who attended the march, told CNN’s Don Lemon that peaceful protesters in the city were practicing their First Amendment right.
Young black people today have higher expectations, which is a sign of progress, he said.
“One of the things that is exciting about this protest tonight: Our young people have an expectation that they will be treated fairly and justly. … Every generation makes their demands.”
“Their tolerance level is much different to perhaps my parents’ generation or their parents’ generation.” he added.
Reed said that while his father instructed him to go out of his way to be deferential and compliant in any encounters with police, “this generation has a different expectation.”
“My dad grilled into me the lesson of driving a vehicle as as black man. Keep your hands on the steering wheel. Look forward and say, ‘yes sir’ or ‘ma’am’ to the police officer. Place your wallet in the seat beside you. Ask for permission to do anything because he was concerned about me living. He just wanted me to get home safe.”
Reed said in 2015, Atlanta law enforcement officers fired their weapons less than 10 times in 1.6 million interactions.
“We have to respect the 99.9% of law enforcement officials who do good every day, but we have to act decisively when individuals in the law enforcement community do wrong,” Reed said.