Oklahoma City Police officers fired rubber bullets, flash bangs and tear gas into a crowd of demonstrators early Sunday morning, during a protest and march that lasted several hours.
The crowd began their march Saturday night around 7:30 p.m., blocking the busy intersection of NW 23rd Street and Classen Boulevard. Police officers say they arrested 13 people for vandalism and assaulting officers. By the end of the night, nearly 30 people were detained.
Regarding tonight’s protest NW 23/Classen, at this time 13 arrests have been made for charges ranging from vandalism to assault on officers. We want everyone to exercise their right to protest, but please do so peacefully.
— Oklahoma City Police (@OKCPD) May 31, 2020
The protesters were gathering following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week. The video of Floyd's death, a black man, quickly went viral online. In the video, a white officer's knee was planted firmly on Floyd's neck and his calls for help were ignored. That officer has since been charged with third-degreee murder and manslaughter.
Since then, protests have sparked in Minneapolis and spread throughout several cities in the United States.
In Oklahoma City, protesters chanted "I Can't Breathe" and "No Justice, No Peace" as they walked down NW 23rd Street from Classen Boulevard to Pennsylvania Avenue and through the Plaza District, a popular area on NW 16th Street. By all accounts, the crowd was largely peaceful.
The crowd had thinned out considerably as they made their way south to Oklahoma City Police headquarters and the Oklahoma County Jail, near NW 1st Street and Shartel Avenue. Along the route, windows were broken out at several businesses.
The crowd is headed to downtown. Some windows are being smashed in store fronts but others are trying to stop it. pic.twitter.com/LOWN3vM4Jw
— Ben Felder (@benfelder_okc) May 31, 2020
Around 11:30 p.m., things escalated near police headquarters. Officers fired flash bangs to disperse the crowd after bricks were thrown at police cars. A couple of police cars could be seen with broken windows, large dents and at least one having been spray-painted.
Through the course of the night, an Oklahoma County Sheriff's vehicle was set on fire and windows were broken at the Oklahoma County Jail.
Some of the crowd eventually returned to where the protest had started on Saturday at NW 23rd Street and Classen Boulevard. There, a Walgreens store had several windows broken.
Television stations also showed a fire at NW 12th Street and Western Avenue, near the protest route. The building houses Dress for Success, a non-profit that provides professional attire to disadvantaged women. It's unclear how the fire started or if it was related to the protest.
At police headquarters, a cat-and-mouse game continued for a couple more hours, as police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, only for protestors to slowly inch closer. That cycle was repeated several times until around 1:30 a.m.
— loganlayden (@loganlayden) May 31, 2020
Dozens of police officers advanced on the crowd after a stop sign was torn down near police headquarters. Protestors were then dispersed into several smaller groups and largely scattered away from the site.
Earlier on Saturday, around 1,000 protestors marched through Tulsa. According to the Tulsa World, the protest began at 33rd Place and Peoria Avenue and headed south to Interstate 44. That's where several protesters lay down on the interstate and chanted, “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can't Breathe.”
— sam (@samanthavicent) May 30, 2020
Another protest is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. at the corner of NE 36th Street and Kelley Avenue in Oklahoma City.