Hundreds of protesters gathered in Dallas and Fort Worth Friday night in response to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, black Americans recently killed by police officers.
Crowd at Dallas Police department headquarters for George Floyd protest. pic.twitter.com/vVR14ydHnH
— Vernon Bryant (@vernonbryant) May 30, 2020
Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck; Taylor was shot and killed by police in Louisville.
The nonprofit Next Generation Action Network organized the rally and march outside Dallas Police headquarters. Protesters chanted, "No justice, no peace!" while holding signs that read "Say Their Names" and "Black Lives Matter." Participants then marched through downtown.
The protest was mostly peaceful throughout the first several hours. Later, things escalated as a smaller group of people briefly shut down part of Interstate 35-E. At one point, a few rocks flew toward police, followed by bottles. An officer on a loudspeaker warned the throng to disperse or be arrested, then tear gas flew.
Dallas police say one officer was injured during the protest and was being treated for injuries that were not life threatening. Several police vehicles were damaged.
Early Saturday morning, some demonstrators smashed windows of various businesses in downtown and Deep Ellum.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson wrote on Twitter: “The protesters in Dallas tonight have largely been peaceful and respectful. I fully support their calls for justice. But we have a small handful of people who apparently have other agendas and have been destroying and stealing property. We can’t have that. It honors no one.”
Protestors in Dallas have shutdown I-35. They’re marching on the highway into oncoming traffic. pic.twitter.com/RJdQK1i5bK
— hady mawajdeh (@hadysauce) May 30, 2020
Dominique Alexander, president and founder of the Next Generation Action Network, said the media can't be trusted and that the police start riots, not protesters. He also said a new oversight board created by the city to monitor the Dallas Police Department is not enough.
Relius Johnson lives in Bedford. But came to the Dallas protest because his blackness is used as a weapon against him. Says he knows there are good police, but he also knows police kill Black men for himself for minor missteps.
“I can’t live the life other have the privilege to.” pic.twitter.com/ZSlt18VIE3
— hady mawajdeh (@hadysauce) May 29, 2020
Relius Johnson of Bedford attended the Dallas protest because he said his blackness is used as a weapon against him. He said he knows there are good police officers, but he also knows police kill black men like himself for minor missteps.
“I can’t live the life others have the privilege to,” Johnson said.
He says many people don’t understand what it’s like to be a black man.
“When I’m pulled over [by police], I start sweating," he said. "I get very nervous, because I’m like, ‘is this my last interaction?’ And also, will it be recorded? Or will they say that I was resisting arrest and that caused my death? Simply just saying they fear for their life means I can get killed and it be justified. And I can’t say I fear for my life with them.”
Indiana Taylor, one of the rally's organizers, is an activist with Next Generation Action Network. She says the group planned this event because black people are tired of being scared.
“We’re in the belly of the beast,” she said. “It is a fear that I have every day. My mom, because I am the one yelling into the void, fears for me every day. She wouldn’t even let me go alone today. She’s in the car right now.”
During the rally, protesters had a moment of silence for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
A smaller rally took place in Fort Worth.
— Teresa Woodard (@twoodard8) May 30, 2020
Protests have been taking place in cities across the United States.
In Houston, the city where Floyd grew up, several thousand people shut down a downtown freeway Friday as they marched after a rally.
Protesters in Houston also blocked highway entrances and threw objects at officers after what had been a day of largely peaceful demonstrations. Some clashed with police at several occasions downtown Friday evening, with officers deploying tear gas or pepper spray to disperse crowds, including one confrontation that took place near police headquarters. Nearly 200 people were arrested and four Houston police officers were injured, KHOU-TV reported.
In Florida, a group of about 10 protesters gathered Friday near a home that belongs to the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck. In Atlanta, hundreds of protesters confronted police outside CNN's downtown headquarters, breaking a window, spray painting the building, and striking some officers with bottles.
Demonstrators blocked traffic in downtown Denver and Columbus, Ohio. Thursday, demonstrators took to the streets in Los Angeles and Memphis. And a Mississippi mayor whose remarks about Floyd's death sparked outrage is resisting calls to resign.
The Associated Press and KERA's Elizabeth Myong and Eric Aasen contributed to this report, which has been updated.
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