BROCKTON (CBS) – Tear gas and fireworks filled the air in Brockton as a night of protests over the death of George Floyd took a violent turn late Tuesday. The crowd was concentrated at police headquarters when suddenly things changed and it got chaotic.
Massachusetts State Police said troopers and officers “withstood numerous bottles and fireworks” thrown by protesters throughout the night. The National Guard had a presence in the city earlier Tuesday, but more troops arrived later in the night to back up police officers.
Earlier, there were peaceful protests including one at City Hall where hundreds gathered. There have been protests all across the country after Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer last week.
“We had an inspiring and unifying rally at West Middle School Tuesday evening where 300-400 peaceful protesters expressed themselves and shared their frustrations and pain over the murder of George Floyd and other unjust killings of black citizens across the country,” Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan said in a statement early Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, a separate march to our police station became tense and violent as a small group of aggressive agitators threw projectiles, including bottles and rocks, at officers. A state trooper was struck by an object and suffered minor injuries and several Brockton officers also suffered minor injuries. Officers were also subjected to assault with fireworks tossed by agitators and police used tear gas to disperse unruly crowds.”
“Let’s keep it peaceful and show the world that we are peaceful,” one man said. “Protesters are peaceful. It’s not something bad, it’s not something hateful. None of us here hate.”
“All lives can’t matter until black lives matter,” one woman told WBZ-TV. “You understand that? We are human just like you guys. We were born in the same place. Only thing different is our skin color.”
After the peaceful protests, large crowds gathered near the police station where the confrontation occurred. At one point during the night a Dunkin’ on Montello Street was vandalized. Every window was shattered and a fire was set.
Owner Eric Eskander said the store was the “first Dunkin’ Donuts that we ever had” and that his family has owned it for more than 30 years.
“It’s just unfortunate. This is no indication of the masses, people were down here for the freedom of speech, to do the right thing. Unfortunately, a few random people decided to do something different,” he told reporters early Wednesday. “I’m not sure what they achieved by doing this.”
Eskander said his family owns 58 stores and they plan to clean up and reopen the Brockton location.
“We cannot let a few violent acts overshadow the powerful message of peace. We all need to come together to enact the systemic changes needed to make society safe for all,” Mayor Sullivan said.