CLEVELAND (WJW) — The “I Can’t Breathe” Justice for George Floyd protest turned violent. Protesters have stormed the streets of downtown, thrown items at officers and vandalized city property and businesses.
The protest was organized by Black Lives Matter Cleveland in response to Floyd’s death. Floyd died while in Minneapolis police custody, sparking demonstrations across the country.
Protesters met at the Free Stamp on Lakeside Avenue Saturday afternoon. The demonstration started off peaceful. People gathering at the protest could be heard saying, “No justice, no peace,” I can’t breathe,” and “black lives matter.”
Much of the crowd marched to Public Square, where the events remained calm. But a crowd at the Cuyahoga County Justice Center threw objects at officers and tried to break windows, police said.
Officers in riot gear formed a line in front of the county building. Tear gas was used several times as police warned the crowd to disperse.
Firefighters responded to West 3rd Street and Lakeside Avenue for two police cars set on fire. Injuries are unknown at this time.
Cleveland police said traffic was shut down coming into downtown. Please avoid downtown at this time.
At about 5:45 p.m., Cleveland police were still advising people against coming into downtown.
Cleveland police reported people throwing things at the mounted unit horses.
Our crew in SkyFOX spotted a burning van near another burned-out car in front of the Cuyahoga County Justice Center. In a parking lot off of West 3rd Street, more cars burned.
The city of Cleveland enacted a curfew because of violence and unrest. From 8 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday, and 8 p.m. Sunday to 8 a.m. Monday for downtown.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine granted a request from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams to activate the Ohio National Guard to assist in responding to incidents of violence.
The Ohio Department of Transportation said I-90 westbound at I-271, and SR 2 westbound in Willowick and at the Innerbelt curve are closed at the request of the Ohio State Highway Patrol to direct traffic away from downtown Cleveland.
A firetruck was also damaged during the unrest.
Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest Monday.
That police officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Three other officers were fired.