Downtown Cincinnati saw its second protest on Saturday following one on Friday that was largely peaceful but escalated into violence. Protests in honor of George Floyd, an African American man in Minneapolis who died in police custody, are taking place all over the nation, as well as throughout Ohio.
In Columbus, a Friday protest turned violent when rioters broke windows at the Statehouse; in all more than 100 properties were damaged, the Statehouse News Bureau reports. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther issued a curfew, and Governor Mike DeWine on Saturday called in the Ohio National Guard.
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley also issued a curfew Saturday morning, following the events Friday night here, which he said were comprised of "a small group of people." The curfew is from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Protests are also taking place in Cleveland and Toledo.
Floyd died May 25 when Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, knelt on his neck for more than 8 minutes. In a video recorded by a witness, Floyd can be heard repeatedly saying "Please," "I can't breathe," and "Don't kill me." Chauvin has since been fired and is now facing charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter.
On Saturday, many protesters, some of them young children, carried signs bearing Floyd's last words.
The day's protests largely have remained peaceful, with WVXU's Ronny Salerno, who is photographing the events Downtown, reporting at least one use of pepper spray.
Around 5 p.m., the Cincinnati Police Department tweeted that it had dispersed a "large disorderly crowd" at 12th and Race streets. At least two were arrested.
Another group of protesters gathered at The Banks. A participant explained to the crowd that it was a safe space to exercise their First Amendment rights given the patrons at area bars and restaurants, many of whom were seated outdoors on the sunny and balmy 70-degree day.
"If the police come, we have witnesses. If the police come, they are not going to make it worse then it needs to be - they're not going to use pellets, they're not going to use tear gas, because of all these other people here, so let's stay here."
An organizer explaining why the group has taken to The Banks. pic.twitter.com/2LTj1guWWA
— 91.7 WVXU (@917wvxu) May 30, 2020
Police parked cars at the eastern and western edges of The Banks, but had yet to interact with demonstrators who had linked arm in arm in the intersection.
Earlier, protesters also passed by the Hamilton County Justice Center, where the front window had been broken the night before. Salerno reported inmates could be heard slapping the windows.
Salerno also reports that volunteers are passing out water and masks along the protest route. Around 7 p.m., demonstrators began to leave The Banks. An organizer encouraged all to remain calm, stay together, and pick up any trash as they left.
The march moving northward through the CBD. pic.twitter.com/6wDQQbaqLl
— 91.7 WVXU (@917wvxu) May 30, 2020
The group arrived at the Hamilton County Courthouse around 8 p.m. and were greeted by about 10 deputies and a K-9 standing on the steps. A bottle of water was thrown, and demonstrators quickly condemned the action.
At 8:15 p.m. Salerno reported that demonstrators were headed back where the day began: At Cincinnati Police's District 1 headquarters on Central Parkway.
Upon arrival at around 8:40 p.m., Salerno reported a much less aggressive scene than earlier in the day. The district deployed officers with helmets and standard uniforms, as opposed to the shields and suits seen earlier.
However, about 20 minutes in, the situation took a turn. Police emerged in riot gear and the crowd grew louder. Twice an orange rifle was raised, but both protestors and police stood their ground. Then the situation escalated with the use of tear gas. (Warning: Some may find language in the below video offensive.)
Situation is escalating. pic.twitter.com/qVGOme5wc9
— 91.7 WVXU (@917wvxu) May 31, 2020
The city's curfew - the first such curfew put in place since the 2001 riots after police shot and killed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas - went into effect at 10 p.m. Much of the crowd has dispersed.