CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM is giving you the first look at Cleveland Police Department video from the day rioting erupted downtown after a peaceful protest, and the video (seen above) shows what police did to try to break up the crowd before people started getting wild.
The video shows the police incident commander arriving and talking about trying to move back the crowd. Officers on the police radio can be heard checking on the location of each other, and one officer points out some in the crowd have baseball bats.
Last month, a crowd gathered next to city hall to protest police use of force and the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota. The crowd then moved to just outside the doors of the Justice Center.
As the commander started walking up to the Justice Center, she used a megaphone and started reading an order to disperse or break-up. The order mentioned possible arrest for anyone not moving on from the area.
Police say she made the announcement three times.
The video shows people in the crowd already spray-painting the Justice Center by the time the Commander got up to the top of the steps.
The video also shows how it got harder and harder to hear those announcements, and those within earshot didn’t suddenly leave.
Instead the crowd grew and stood within inches of officers on bikes at the Justice Center.
After those announcements, police started firing pepper spray and other weapons to make loud bangs.
All of that only caused some in the crowd to scatter.
Not long after that someone set police cars on fire, rioting broke out, and the rioting and looting went on for hours.
The I-TEAM has reported officers quickly ran out of what they were using to try to break up the crowd and had to go get more of those munitions.
We also obtained a copy of the police plan for that day. And it does not account for big trouble or making a large number of arrests.
Police ended up arresting dozens of people.
The Mayor and Police Chief have insisted they had no way to predict this kind of trouble even though similar unrest had broken out around the country in the days before Cleveland’s rioting.
The I-TEAM has requested much more police video.
Meantime, the video at the top of the story gives you the first look at how police asked the people in the crowd to break up the gathering. It shows why many people may have never heard the police announcement, and it shows how many simply ignored it.
Find more I-TEAM coverage here.