CLEVELAND (WJW) — The “I Can’t Breathe” Justice for George Floyd protest turned violent. Protesters have stormed the streets of downtown, thrown items at officers and vandalized city property and businesses.
The protest was organized by Black Lives Matter Cleveland in response to Floyd’s death. Floyd died while in Minneapolis police custody, sparking demonstrations across the country.
Protesters met at the Free Stamp on Lakeside Avenue Saturday afternoon. The demonstration started off peaceful. People gathering at the protest could be heard saying, “No justice, no peace,” I can’t breathe,” and “black lives matter.”
Much of the crowd marched to Public Square, where the events remained calm. But a crowd at the Cuyahoga County Justice Center threw objects at officers and tried to break windows, police said.
Officers in riot gear formed a line in front of the county building. Tear gas was used several times as police warned the crowd to disperse.
Firefighters responded to West 3rd Street and Lakeside Avenue for two police cars set on fire. Injuries are unknown at this time.
Cleveland police said traffic was shut down coming into downtown. Please avoid downtown at this time.
At about 5:45 p.m., Cleveland police were still advising people against coming into downtown.
Cleveland police reported people throwing things at the mounted unit horses.
Our crew in SkyFOX spotted a burning van near another burned-out car in front of the Cuyahoga County Justice Center. In a parking lot off of West 3rd Street, more cars burned.
Columbus police declared a state of emergency Saturday afternoon, as seen in the video, below.
The state of emergency, as laid out by Columbus City Code and the Ohio Revised Code, means that anyone who does not leave the area is subject to be removed by authorities regardless of their reason for being there.
Police say violators can face criminal charges.
According to Catherine Ross, a reporter for our sister station WCMH, the crowd began their protest by gathering in front of the Ohio statehouse. Protesters were calling for justice and yelling, “I can’t breathe.”
Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest Monday.
That police officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Three other officers were fired.