Police Chief: Protests In Raleigh Devolved Into 'Anarchy'

Police Chief: Protests In Raleigh Devolved Into 'Anarchy'

7:20pm May 31, 2020
At a press conference Sunday, Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said there were two protests Saturday night: one peaceful, the other violent. She said to the second group: "You are not Raleigh." JASON DE BRUYN / WUNC

North Carolina's capital city is cleaning up after a night of protests over the death of George Floyd led to what the city's police chief described as “anarchy.”

News outlets report police fired rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray at protesters and journalists after an initially peaceful protest that drew more than 1,000 people broke down Saturday evening.

"We had about two hours of peaceful protesting,” Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said at a Sunday morning press conference. “Everything after that was anarchy.”

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin called the aftermath of the protests “heartbreaking and devastating.”

“There was a group of people who came in the dark of the night who had no intention of protesting peacefully,” she said.

Republican House Speaker Tim Moore posted on his Facebook page a video of the chaotic scene from a downtown high-rise and criticized the governor for failing to call in the National Guard.

“I am witnessing utter lawlessness firsthand in downtown Raleigh,” Moore said.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said at a news conference Sunday that hundreds of Guardsmen were available Sunday night to cities that requested them, including Raleigh and Charlotte. He expressed sympathy with protesters and frustration that violence was undermining their message.

“I fear the cry of the people is being drowned out by the noise of the riots,” he said.

Deck-Brown said 12 people were arrested in Raleigh.

Five officers were treated and released from the hospital for injuries they sustained in the protests. One suffered a broken jaw, Deck-Brown said.

In Greensboro, news outlets report that the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, established on the site of 1960 lunch counter sit-ins, suffered about $5,000 in damage when a window was shattered.

In Fayetteville, where protests also turned chaotic and some businesses were ransacked and fires were set, Mayor Mitch Colvin declared a state of emergency and implemented a curfew from 8 p.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. Monday. A reporter for the Fayetteville Observer, Paul Woolverton, said he is suffering from a concussion after he was hit and kicked in the head as he and another reporter covered looting at a shopping mall.

In Charlotte, where protests Friday night turned violent, another 30 people were arrested in a second night of protests on charges ranging from assaulting a government employee to gun possession, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said. The arrests came after some protesters fired shots and threw rocks and explosives at officers and at a fire truck responding to help someone who had fallen into a manhole. Police said two officers sustained minor injuries in the rioting.

The protests in North Carolina were similar to those carried out across the nation in response Floyd’s death. His arrest Monday was caught on camera and he could be heard saying “I can’t breathe” while a white officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. Chauvin was charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

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