Hundreds of people peacefully protested at Dayton’s federal building Saturday, but after that event ended, chaotic scenes ensued as some protesters blocked traffic and tried to get onto highways.
Dayton Police tweeted that three large protest groups were still active in the city. One group is blocking the entrance and exit to the RTA hub. The tweet said that Main Street and Third Street are not passable to traffic.
Another group, near 5th Street and Keowee Street, reportedly threw rocks at police officers. Dayton Police Department’s tweet reported that “chemical munitions were deployed” on the scene. A third group is protesting peacefully near the Levitt Pavilion.
Police used tear gas or pepper spray to redirect protesters on Third Street in Dayton in mid-afternoon. Nearly 400 to 500 protesters had gathered in that area, angered by the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.
Emergency radio traffic indicated that Interstate 75 was shut down briefly as protesters attempted to move toward the highway. Officers were on the highway for a time, but protesters were turned away.
Dayton police tweeted at 5 p.m. that a large group of protesters were walking north on Main Street toward Monument Avenue.
“Again, if you are driving downtown, please be aware of the large number of pedestrians that are in the roadways,” the tweet said.
Police and protesters clashed in the area of Jones Street and Wayne Avenue as officers set up a line to prevent the group from moving forward at about 2 p.m., a little more than two hours after the day’s events began.
Some in the crowd threw rocks at police cruisers, and police ordered the crowd to disperse and fired pepper balls.
After tension for about 45 minutes, the crowd began to disperse there.
“At one point rocks and bottles were being thrown at officers on Wayne Ave. One officer was injured,” a Dayton police tweet at about 3:30 p.m. “We did deploy chemical munitions when the situation became violent.”
Today’s protest began peacefully at the federal building in downtown Dayton before noon, and after about an hour of speeches, the crowd marched. Many in the crowd chanted “I can’t breathe,” which George Floyd was seen on video saying before his death while in police custody this week. Protesters also chanted, “no justice, no peace.”
Multiple people gave passionate speeches from the front steps as a crowd of hundreds gathered for the first of two planned protests in the city today.
Some led chants including “black lives matter.”
The event at the Walter H. Rice Federal Building was called for Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black jogger who was shot and killed by pursuers in Georgia, and other victims of police and racial violence, said Donald Domineck, the chair of Dayton Ohio Chapter of the New Black Panther Party.
Today's rally is supposed to bring the community together and provide a forum for people to vent, speak up and express how they feel, he said.
“We’re going to be peaceful, but we’re going to be passionate,” Domineck told the crowd through a mask and bullhorn as the event began.
The event was scheduled to begin at noon, and the crowd began gathering close to 11:30. Speeches were made through a bullhorn on the front steps, and the crowd chanted at times.
Gabriela Pickett, a member of the Dayton School Board, told the crowd that “there are three types of cops. Good cops. Bad cops. And the worst — cops that turn a blind eye.”
Domineck and other community members say they want the city of Dayton to pass new legislation calling for police to use de-escalation techniques and strategies, similar to policies approved in Cleveland.
Dayton officials said Friday people understandably are frustrated and outraged by recent violent tragedies, but they expect the protests to be peaceful and lawful.
“Knowing our community like I do, it is certainly my expectation that it will be overwhelmingly law-abiding while engaging in any type of protest activity,” said Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl said Friday.
MORE PROTESTS COVERAGE
Black people have tried to talk, kneel and protest to effect change, but none of it has worked, said the Rev. Chad White Jr., a pastor with the Word Church in Dayton.
White said he wants to see peaceful protests today in Dayton, but he said people have rioted elsewhere because they feel they haven't been heard and that no one is listening to their peaceful forms of protest.
"Quit killing our people — just stop — it's not that difficult," he said.
Bishop Richard Cox on Friday said he wants the community to "turn our pain into power, and our protests into solidarity, as we stand up and speak up."
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