Dozens arrested, Downtown connector blocked, windows broken in Ferguson protest in Atlanta
At least 21 arrests made, more to be announced today
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- Max Blau??
- Police in riot gear prepare to be deployed on Peachtree Street during the #ATLFerguson protests.?
??Several thousand demonstrators last night took to Atlanta's streets to protest a St. Louis grand jury's decision to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Local authorities arrested several-dozen protesters — including some who blocked the Downtown connector and others who destroyed property — during more than seven hours of protests. Two journalists working to cover the events, including CL freelance reporter John Ruch, were among those arrested over the course of the evening.?
The two large demonstrations, one drawing thousands to Underground Atlanta and another zigzagging across Downtown, were mostly peaceful. Nearly 3,000 protesters initially descended upon Downtown for a peaceful "community speakout" organized by the same group behind a massive Aug. 18 protest about Brown's killing. Last night's four-hour event featured activist speeches, artistic performances, and numerous moments of silence for Brown. ?
Around 8 p.m., a group of several hundred people marched through south Downtown, briefly confronted Georgia State Police officers at a barricade near the Gold Dome, and blocked traffic on the Downtown connector for approximately 20 minutes. GSP troopers confronted demonstrators, making multiple arrests on the highway in the middle of blocked cars, and ordered the remaining ones to disperse or face arrest.?
The group then marched through the Old Fourth Ward before heading back Downtown. On the way back to Underground Atlanta, police officers in riot gear formed a line on Decatur Street in an attempt to break up the activists. Authorities made another round of arrests, using pepper spray to forcibly detain one woman before placing her in restraints, and briefly ordering people to stay on the sidewalks. The group, which was slowly dissipating, received reinforcements from protesters leaving the Underground Atlanta rally. Hundreds of people joined the second wave of the demonstration.?
The group, now numbering in the hundreds, peacefully marched north on Forsyth and Peachtree streets. Along the way, a few agitators among the peaceful protesters began to destroy property: a taxicab window was shattered, rocks were thrown through a window at the Meehan's Downtown location, and a Wells Fargo branch's glass was shattered. Other people destroyed construction signs, toppled newspaper boxes, and knocked over Peachtree Center's decorative Christmas trees. The agitators prompted local law enforcement to escalate its response by deploying hundreds of officers, including some in riot gear, to break up the protest.?
At Peachtree Street and Ralph McGill Boulevard, APD officers stopped the protesters from heading toward Midtown and ordered them to leave the streets. Numerous arrests occurred at the intersection following brief scuffles between protesters and police officers. APD officers once again ordered protesters to disperse because of the destroyed property. ?
The march continued throughout parts of Downtown around the CNN Center, Centennial Olympic Park, and AmericasMart. Just before midnight, the protested ended following another chaotic scuffle and additional arrests on Spring Street outside APD's Zone 5 precinct. Ruch was arrested during the commotion. He was charged with disorderly conduct and released from the Atlanta Municipal Detention Facility around 6 a.m. We'll have more on his arrest in a subsequent report. ?
At a press conference this morning, APD Chief George Turner told reporters that police officers had arrested 24 people on charges including felony weapon possession, obstruction, destruction of property, and failure to disperse. ?
"We just have a group of individuals out there that simply mean this city… harm," Turner told reporters.?
Georgia State Police also arrested two people. A GSP spokesperson Tracey Watson tells CL that one protester was charged with disorderly conduct. The second one, the spokesperson says, faces multiple charges including aggravated assault upon a peace officer, wearing a mask, obstruction of law enforcement officer, and interference with government property.?
"One Georgia State Trooper was injured when a protester lobbed a lit traffic flare and it struck the trooper in the neck area," Watson says. "He was treated and released from the hospital. The protestor was taken into custody."?
Elle Lucier, one of the organizers behind the Underground Atlanta protest, tells CL that police broke promises made to her group that they would refrain from using military-style tactics. She also questioned the size of the police response given how the vast majority of protesters last night conducted themselves in a peaceful manner.?
CL's Maggie Lee has a full report from Mayor Kasim Reed's press conference his morning. APD and GSP have provide CL full lists of the 26 people arrested. We've included their names and charges after the jump. A judge has dismissed charges against both journalists who were arrested.????
Atlanta Police arrests (Name, charge):
? Samuel Ibanez, pedestrian in roadway
? Sarah Garrett, pedestrian in roadway
? Frank Leo, disorderly conduct
? Corina Cruz, pedestrian in roadway
? John Ruch, disorderly conduct
? San Antonio Smith, pedestrian in roadway
? Terrence Oxley, disorderly conduct X2
? Nolan Jeter, disorderly conduct
? Ronald Comeaux, disorderly conduct
? Nile Bean, disorderly conduct
? Anthony Turner, disorderly conduct
? Austin Gates, wearing mask to conceal ID
? Renzo Marches, disorderly conduct
? Natasha Sanders, disorderly conduct
? Wayne Perry, disorderly conduct
? Corey Toole, pedestrian in roadway
? Walter Paul, disorderly conduct
? Thomas Dimassimo, disorderly conduct
? Nicholas Lulofs, disorderly conduct
? Michael Anthony, disorderly conduct
? Michael Gartley, disorderly conduct
? Kayla Richardson, disorderly conduct
? Kai Adams, agg assault/pointing gun
? Clarisa Tullis, pedestrian in roadway?
Georgia State Police arrests (name, charge):
? Frema Egyirba Awuku, disorderly conduct
? Spenser Avery Gould, aggravated assault upon a peace officer/wearing a mask, hood, or device which conceals identity of wearer/obstruction of a law enforcement officer/interference with government property?
NOTE: This story has been updated to include additional information. To view our complete coverage on local protests and responses to police brutality, visit the #ShutitdownATL page.