BROCKTON (CBS) – Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan called for calm in the city Wednesday, a day after rioters clashed with police following a peaceful protest.
As many as 400 people came out for what Sullivan called “an inspiring and unifying rally” at West Middle School Tuesday evening to share “their frustrations and pain over the murder of George Floyd.”
Later, a separate march to the Brockton police station turned violent as a small group of people threw bottles and rocks at officers. Several Brockton officers and a Massachusetts state trooper ended up with minor injuries.
“Police officers in the community, we’re on the same side, and it was very troubling last night to see my officers and a few of my brother officers on the state police be struck with rocks and fireworks and frozen water bottles,” said Brockton Police Chief Emanuel Gomes.
At a news conference Wednesday morning, Sullivan said a “handful” of people were arrested.
“What happened last night with vandalism and violence is counterproductive. It hinders, it does not help the cause in any way,” the mayor told reporters.
The Plymouth County District Attorney released details of one arrest Wednesday afternoon. Schmidreck Georges, 23, of Brockton, is facing several charges including assaulting a police officer with a rock during the incident Tuesday night. He was released on $40 cash bail and will be arraigned next week.
Sullivan said fireworks were also thrown at officers who used tear gas to break up the crowd. The National Guard was called in, but Sullivan said they had left by the morning.
He spoke to reporters outside a Dunkin’ on Montello Street where every window was shattered and a fire was set.
“Brockton has already been hampered by Covid, right? 239 deaths, one of the hot spots in the Commonwealth. Businesses have been closed. Most people in Brockton are not wealthy, we are a poor community,” Sullivan said. “But we have always been vigilant and diligent for a cause and right now, my cause as the mayor of Brockton, first of all, is to say stay calm in the city of Brockton. We listen, we learn, we come together.”
Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz said those who caused the damage will be prosecuted. “Not the large group who wanted to protest safely. The people who did, were the people standing behind them throwing these rocks, hiding behind the protesters. Those are the people that need to understand that we will not idly sit by and allow our community to go down that road,” Cruz said.
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.
The courthouse and other businesses were also hit by vandals.
“I hope the people who decided to throw the fireworks at me and left a mark on my arm and have me get tear gassed three-to-four times wake up with themselves and realize they did something bad,” Brockton resident Jeff Gomes told reporters.
Gomes was out helping scrub graffiti off buildings Wednesday morning.
“These businesses in Brockton, they employ a lot of people of color, a lot of minorities,” he said. “We can rally together for a moment and start the change.”
Sullivan said there is still a curfew in Brockton from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. It was put in at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.