KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Across the country protests and rallies continue after the death of George Floyd.
Floyd was an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who died in police custody after Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck even as he begged for air.
Video released of his death sparking protests and riots in several major American cities from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, and even in Knoxville.
Unrest broke out in Downtown Knoxville near Market Square, a crowd of young people gathered in the area and were met by police in riot gear, and the situation became tense.
Protesters broke multiple windows, damaging some large flower pots and turning over several trash cans in the area.
Knoxville reports that a group of 50 to 100 people gathered around 11:30 p.m. Saturday and committed numerous acts of vandalism in the area of Market Square and Downtown Knoxville.
KPD continues to report that shortly after the assembly, the window at Ruby Sunshine was vandalized and the group then dispersed all over downtown Knoxville. Officers were dispatched to the area in order to maintain public safety and prevent any further criminal activity.
Just after midnight, a larger group assembled on the Clinch Avenue bridge and made its way towards downtown shooting fireworks, throwing trashcans into the road, smashing a port-a-potty and breaking glass somewhere near Clinch and Locust.
Around 1 a.m., KPD observed a man, later identified as Dakota Gifford, exit a vehicle on the Market Square Garage. He was detained. Officers then searched the vehicle and found six handguns, two shotguns, two rifles and various narcotics.
Gifford was charged with possession with intent to sell schedule I, possession with intent to sell schedule II, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.
Officers then gave out dispersal orders to a group of around 40 or more individuals that were making their way back towards Market Square.
KPD says the group then traveled north on Gay Street, where one person threw an object into a police SUV, hitting an officer in the head. The officer was uninjured. The 18-year-old male suspect, later identified as Dominic Brown, was then arrested and charged with assault, disorderly conduct, evading arrest, resisting arrest and inciting a riot.
A KPD spokesperson says officers utilized pepper balls in response to increasing violence and vandalism.
“The pepper balls were not used to impede on lawful assembly, but in a limited capacity to prevent further unlawful activity and uphold public safety. Additionally, the pepper balls were deployed only after two orders to disperse had been given,” said Scott Erland, KPD spokesperson.
A second officer did sustain a minor injury during the arrest and was taken to a nearby Knoxville Fire Department station to receive first aid.
No other injuries were reported.
KPD reports that the groups had left the downtown area around 2 a.m. and officers are continuing to assess any additional vandalism’s that occurred overnight during this event.
The Morristown Police Department reports they dealt with, “a peaceful protest turned to participants throwing rocks and bottles at our officers and making threats of violence.”
They report that they were made aware of a social media post Saturday afternoon which allegedly solicited individuals to join a peaceful protest starting at 9 p.m. Saturday night.
The police department then reports that approximately 150 people assembled and marched throughout the downtown area chanting, “I can’t breathe,” and “No justice, no peace.”
MPD says, “The crowd eventually gathered at the City Center building blocking both the entrance and exit of the parking garage. Individuals attempted to incite officers in the City Center garage by shouting profanities and derogatory remarks. Officers stayed in place to protect the municipal building and vehicles parked in the garage. Protesters continued to shout profanities and threw rocks and bottles at officers. One officer was struck in the leg by a rock thrown from the crowd.”
The crowd was ordered to disperse around 12:40 a.m.
One person filed a report to the police department alleging he had been struck in the face by a protester.
In Middle Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee mobilized the National Guard in Nashville as violence erupted during a protest late Saturday night.
The “I Will Breathe” protests began Saturday afternoon, and it remained peaceful until nightfall. The situation became volatile as demonstrators sprayed graffiti and broke windows out of the Metro Courthouse.
It then escalated even further just after 8 p.m. (Central) as protesters broke into the courthouse and set fire to the building.
Metro Police broke up the crowd with the use of fireworks and a smoke bomb.
Several protesters clashed with officers who were protecting the police station as well.
This then spread into Downtown Nashville in the lower Broadway area where several businesses were damaged.
Metro police have released a list of 30 Nashville businesses that were damaged in Saturday night’s protests and riots.
Metro Nashville police officers also arrested 28 people during Saturday’s protests and after the 10:00 p.m. curfew took effect.
Further west in Memphis, protesters taking to the street for a second night of demonstrations.
A diverse crowd coming together, saying this is important, repeating their message for change. The crowd stood in solidarity with crowds in Minneapolis.
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