DAYTON — Two planned protests in Dayton Saturday were mostly peaceful, officials say, but what happened afterwards wasn’t. Mayor Nan Whaley and Police Chief Richard Biehl both described situations where a vast majority of protesters were peaceful, but groups of people after the protests caused vandalism, tried to get onto a highway, and clashed with police.
“I’ve been talking to other cities across the state of Ohio and they have had he same experience,” said Mayor Whaley in one of two news conferences in the evening. “The protest goes fine, it is the dissipation of a couple of people trying to get around, trying to get on the interstate, trying to cause some problem. It’s not even the protests, it’s just these small groups. With what they do, they are not set to have their voice heard; they are set to destruct. And so we have to protect the community is safe and that is why we are putting this curfew in place.”
The first significant clash with police was after an early afternoon protest, when a group of people headed toward U.S. Highway 35 near Wayne. Police used teargas or a similar substance at that location.
The second set of chaotic clashes came in the 9 p.m. hour, as police began to enforce a curfew. Video from News Center 7 crews show police using teargas, and at least one protester throwing a canister back at them. Crews also saw arrests and police officers trying to enter a nightclub after what may have been a false report of a shooter. By 10 p.m., most of the crowd had disappeared from downtown Dayton, but broken glass, graffiti and other signs of vandalism remained. The following are updates throughout the day and night Saturday describing what was happening in Dayton.
UPDATE 11:15 p.m. In the 11 p.m. hour Saturday night, the streets of downtown Dayton and the Oregon District were mostly empty, except for police officers and other officials. It was a stark contrast to the chaos that had happened a few hours earlier. Much of the activity happened in the 9 p.m, hour, after the curfew was put in place by the city of Dayton. This story will continue to be update through the night. Damage has been reported at a number of downtown buildings, mostly consisting of broken windows, graffiti, or overturned trash cans. At least one porta-potty was overturned. Among places showing damage were a building used by Premier Health, a building used by the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, and the Key Bank building. None of that was described as major damage. There was significant damage to the doors and windows of MJ’s on Jefferson, where someone had called in a shooter having gone into the club. People inside the building and police eventually determined it may have been a false call, and there was no evidence found of a shooter.
News Center 7 crews also observed many citizens immediately picking up trash cans, broken glass, and overturned planters. Some of the people cleaning up appeared to be demonstrators, others appeared to live in the area.
UPDATE 11 p.m. Video obtained by News Channel 7 shows bricks being thrown at Uno Chicago Bar and Grill, the Loft Theater, and the Victoria Theater. It was not immediately clear how much damage the businesses suffered.
UPDATE 10:27 p.m. In a live news conference, Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl says about 15 people have been arrested. 13 arrests were for misdemeanors, 2 for felonies.
“Quite frankly,” Biehl said, “this is a very challenging night for regional law enforcement that responded to mass protests, and following that, in some cases, public disorder, property damage, assaults on police officers, so it was a difficult and challenging night for the men and women of regional law enforcement who did a fabulous job containing this disorder and doing it in a way that is appropriate and compliant with the law, with policy and practice.”
Chief Biehl says some officers suffered minor injuries.
“We have had Some injuries to police officers, most of their officers maintained their position in crowd control. We did have a deputy from Montgomery County who received an ankle injury and was transported for treatment,” he said.
The chief also says there were three separate reports of shots fired, and that police responded but were not able to find evidence that any shots had been fired. One incident left damage at MJ’s on Jefferson.
UPDATE 9:55 p.m. News Center 7′s Monica Castro reports a Huber Heights police cruiser was damaged, including a broken window. Several agencies had police vehicles in Dayton to assist the Dayton Police Department.
UPDATE 9:50 p.m. Live television coverage on News Center 7 showed multiple people being arrested by police. Crews on the scene report that in at least one case, they saw police directing a person to disperse, but arrested that person after he would not disperse. News Center 7′s John Bedell reported live that several officers were having calm conversations with protesters, including at least one in handcuffs.
UPDATE 9:40 p.m. Video from News Center 7 crews show police firing teargas canisters, and at least two people in the crowd grabbing the canisters and throwing them back at police.
Officers deployed teargas shortly after 9 p.m., according to News Center 7’s Monica Castro who was live at the scene. Castro reports she felt the sting of the teargas, and witnessed people spraying graffiti and knocking over plants.
Video also showed officers with weapons drawn, though it was unclear what kind of guns the officers had. There was also a report of an incident near MJs, a club near Third and Jefferson. Video from News Center 7 crews showed officers congregated there, though it was not clear what had happened.
UPDATE: 9:15 p.m. There are reports of shots fired in the area of Courthouse Square in Dayton. News Center 7 crews on the scene heard loud pops, and report that they see what appears to be teargas being deployed. Video above shows the moments the crowd ran from the deployment of teargas.
UPDATE: 7:40 p.m. Dayton city officials have ordered a curfew for downtown Dayton and the Oregon District, to begin at 9 p.m.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said in a news conference, “I want to be really clear today, and every day, that we are very serious in city hall and the city of Dayton that black lives matter. We are committed in Dayton to dismantle the systems of racism in our community and across the country. It is something we work on daily, the commissioners are dedicated to it, as am I and the city manager. That is why I decided to peacefully protest this afternoon, as you saw, and it was clear this afternoon as the protests disseminated we had some folks who wanted less about the issue of what we are talking about, and more of just wanting to cause trouble, and we expect that to happen tonight as well. So we are instituting, the city commission and the city manager agree, we will institute a curfew tonight for downtown tonight and for the Oregon District from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.”
The boundaries of the curfew are from Keowee Street on the east, the river to the north and west, and 6th street on the south.
The mayor says those who do not follow the curfew will be arrested.
“I’ve been talking to other cities across the state of Ohio and they have had he same experience,” said Mayor Whaley. “The protest goes fine, it is the dissipation of a couple of people trying to get around, trying to get on the interstate, trying to cause some problem. It’s not even the protests, it’s just these small groups. With what they do, they are not set to have their voice heard; they are set to destruct. And so we have to protect the community is safe and that is why we are putting this curfew in place.”
The mayor also said there were 4 or 5 arrests during the afternoon, with no reports of property damage.
The mayor also had a message for the majority of protesters. “I want to thank the vast majority of people who came out today,” said the mayor. “They were safe, they wore their masks, I think it was the best mask wearing place I have seen anywhere, so well done, Dayton. They demonstrated social distancing for the vast majority, so I was very grateful for how thoughtful people were and how they worked to protect each others health at the same time.”
UPDATE @ 6 p.m.
Intersection closures continue at various points in the general area of downtown. The closures have included parts of Main Street and the I-75 ramp near Third Street, where News Center 7 crews observed people throwing rocks and bottles, and police using chemicals. News Center 7’s Ronnell Hunt was at the scene. “We actually had some contact with that chemical gas as I was choking, on the phone trying to give information to a producer,” said Hunt. “We also saw a different group of protesters near the 35 East ramp near Patterson, and that was a peaceful protest,” said Hunt.
Other smaller groups of protesters have been observed, including along Brown Street and marching south along Main Street into Oakwood. There were no incidents with police at those locations. There were also no incidents during the earlier protest at the federal building in Dayton.
Organizers tell News Center 7 another protest is expected at 7 p.m.
UPDATE @ 4 p.m.
Wayne Avenue has reopened, according to the Dayton Police Department.
UPDATE @ 2:30 p.m.:
The earlier protest that took place at the Dayton federal building around noon ended peacefully.
Police are now working to disperse large crowds of additional protesters in Dayton that have begun to spread throughout the city.
Wayne Avenue from U.S. 35 to Fourth Street is currently closed and officers are asking people to avoid this area as well as the Oregon District.
It is currently unclear if these protesters were also at the federal building or if the demonstrations are a part of a new group of individuals.
The Dayton Police Department sent out a tweet asking protesters to stay safe and away from the highways.
Hundreds of protesters are gathered near the federal building in downtown Dayton in response to George Floyd’s death.
Floyd died in Minneapolis while in police custody after an officer was seen kneeling on his neck.
One local participating in today’s protest says he came out to support the movement and explains what exactly the movement means to him.
“It’s not just a black thing, it’s not just a white thing, there’s Asians, there’s Mexicans, there’s all kinds - immigrants - and there’s also Caucasians that have been wronged by the system, it needs to be fair across the board," said Clifford Nelson.
Nelson is concerned about what will happen after all the protesting has concluded.
“Anytime there’s a show of protests and noise you get a lot of people, but then it wanes away when it comes time to do the groundwork of organizing, voting, getting the people in you need, going to community meetings. People fall by the wayside and things go back to the status quo.”
Friday Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Police Chief Richard Biehl wanted to stress safety.
They said they understand why many people are sad, frustrated and angry.
Whaley said she wanted the protests to be a safe space to express this anger and demand change.
There will be an increased police presence in Dayton this weekend and officers will protect people’s constitutional rights, said Biehl.
Another protest is also underway in downtown Yellow Springs.
An evening protest is scheduled to take place in downtown Dayton around 7 p.m.
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