Local News

'The police are doing nothing': Drivers vented in 911 calls as protesters blocked Capital Boulevard

Posted July 14, 2020 1:19 p.m. EDT
Updated July 14, 2020 7:27 p.m. EDT

— Dozens of 911 calls reflect the frustration of drivers with the response of Raleigh police to a demonstration two weeks ago in which protesters blocked Capital Boulevard north of downtown.

The protesters had been camped outside the governor's mansion in downtown Raleigh for several days, calling for Gov. Roy Cooper to veto a bill that would keep some details of death investigations confidential, a fact the protesters said would shield law enforcement officers from public scrutiny following death in police custody or in jail.

But late in the afternoon of July 2, the protest moved north, blocking traffic at various intersections until a crowd of protesters filled the southbound lanes of Capital Boulevard near Peace Street, forcing traffic to a halt.

"They are trying to get in front of any car, anywhere, putting their bodies in front of them," one caller told a 911 dispatcher that afternoon.

In about four dozen 911 and non-emergency calls to Raleigh police obtained by WRAL News, callers described a similar situation and begged for police to clear the road.

"I'm on Capital Boulevard just outside of downtown heading south, and my car is surrounded by protesters who are beating on my car, and they won't let us through," one caller told 911. "I see a Raleigh police officer. I see a police officer on the other side not doing anything."

"The police are doing nothing," another caller said.

"I'll get some officers to get out there, OK?," the dispatcher replied.

"Well, they're already here. They're not doing anything," the caller responded.

"I'll make them aware. That's all I'm able to do," the dispatcher said.

"Of course," the driver said with a heavy sigh. "But they're jumping on cars."

A timeline assembled by WRAL News shows that officers didn't approach the protesters until 6:26 p.m. – at least 37 minutes after they first blocked the street.

Once caller said he had been stopped on Capital Boulevard for a half hour.

"There's no cops here. There's certainly no law enforcement at all," he said.

"We are trying to get it under control, OK?" the dispatcher replied.

"There's a lot of people almost getting run over and getting really impatient," the driver responded.

Officers arrested 20 people between 6:32 and 7:05 p.m., and the road was reopened at 7:28 p.m.

The first 911 call released to WRAL came at 5:53 p.m., and the last one at 7:11 p.m.

"Why are y'all not doing anything about the people that are blocking the roads on Capital Boulevard?" the final caller demanded of a dispatcher.

Raleigh police have declined to comment on the response to the July 2 protest, saying the incident remains under investigation.

Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin also declined to comment.

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