'People are angry;' protesters vandalize downtown Raleigh businesses, 12 arrested
Posted September 26, 2020 8:50 p.m. EDT
Updated September 27, 2020 10:21 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — At least twelve protesters were arrested on Saturday night during protests in downtown Raleigh.
A peaceful march in downtown Raleigh escalated on Saturday, as protesters began breaking windows and spray-painting property in downtown Raleigh. Eleven out of the 12 arrests made were for public disturbance and unlawful assembly by the Raleigh Police Department.
Most of those arrested were also charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice. One person was charged with assault on a government official or employee.
All of those arrested were from Raleigh, Durham or Cary, according to arrest records.
Sydney Gunter, a peaceful protester, said she understands why some protesters resort to vandalism.
"People are angry. We aren't seeing any change," she said. "We've been protesting peacefully and it's not paying off. And so people have every right to be mad and do what they're doing. I don't think ... violence is always the key, but sometimes it's the only way to be heard."
Before the vandalism started, a couple hundred people gathered at Nash Square downtown around 7:30 p.m.
The crowd began marching through the downtown streets shortly after 8 p.m.
Many of the people in the crowd were dressed in black and were protesting the decision that a Kentucky grand jury made to not charge Louisville police officers in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor.
Protesters tried to remove barriers along streets and confronted police who were standing guard at various locations.
Around that time, people began breaking windows and glass doors. One business damaged during the protest was Beasley's Chicken + Honey on Wilmington Street.
Some protesters fired flares as they marched and there were reports of firecrackers set off within the crowd.
Around 9:30 p.m., Raleigh police posted on Twitter that arrests were being made because "protesters are now breaking windows and damaging property" and that the march was "now an unlawful assembly."
The unlawful assembly was declared before the curfew took effect at 11 p.m.
Mayor of Raleigh Mary-Ann Baldwin has continued to say that the protesters who have caused destruction are mostly white and do not care about peace.
She said that the goal of tonight's protest was "simply to cause chaos."
"What Raleigh experienced tonight was wrong and had very little to do with any call for justice," Baldwin said. "The city prepared an opportunity for those who wanted to protest peacefully, and once again, vandals (mostly white) used this as an excuse to incite violence and cause destruction of our downtown business community. Any message of support for Breonna Taylor was usurped by protestors who do not care about peace; they came here with the goal of destruction."
A number of streets in downtown Raleigh will be closed through the weekend – from 7 a.m. Saturday until 7 a.m. Monday – in expectation of possible protests. The closures will keep vehicular traffic off of:
- Fayetteville Street between Morgan and Davie streets
- Hargett Street between Salisbury and Wilmington streets
- Martin Street between Salisbury and Wilmington streets