CLEVELAND - In the wake of Saturday's announcement of the not guilty verdicts in the trial of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Chief of Police Calvin Williams held a press conference this morning, saying that protestors will be dealt with swiftly if they get out of hand, and that anyone coming downtown can do so without fear of violent protests.
In addressing fears that some people may have about visiting downtown, especially with tonight's Cavaliers playoff game at Quicken Loans Arena, both Jackson and Williams stressed that the protestors have a right to be heard, but that violence against property or people will not be tolerated. The mayor sent this message out: "Come into downtown Cleveland, come into the neighborhoods, enjoy yourself. The protestors have the right to be heard, but if they cross the line we will deal with them accordingly."
Listen to the Mayor's message:
According to the mayor, although the majority of yesterday's protests were peaceful, if at times aggressive, some protestors did cross the line. Chief Williams stated that late yesterday afternoon, at East 4th and Huron, a protestor hit a restaurant patron with a sign. That protestor was arrested, along with three others who tried to interfere with the arrest.
That protest then continued to East 9th and Euclid, where protestors sprayed restaurant patrons with pepper spray. More arrests occurred there.
Bystanders were later attacked at the restaurants and bars on East 4th and Euclid Road. Officers made the decision to disbanded the protests. However, most of the protestors refused to leave, resulting in arrests. Later, a confrontation at W 6th and Johnson Court got violent and protestors were also told to leave. When they did not, they were arrested.
In total, police made 71 arrests yesterday, mostly later on in the day and into the evening. Most of those arrested were adults, but there were some juveniles involved too.