Summarizing Saturday's Chaos
Assessing arrests, injuries, and damages in aftermath of downtown riots
The precarious state of race relations in the United States again came to the fore last week, with the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of a white police officer in Minnesota. Feelings of frustration, indignation, helplessness, and disgust have metastasized into chaos across the country, including historically redlined Erie. As we sift through the fallout of rioting and violence, we are left with a sobering reminder of how far we have yet to go in the quest for "liberty and justice for all."
Here is how the situation came to a head last weekend:
Monday, May 25
George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, dies in the Powderhorn neighborhood south of Downtown Minneapolis after white police officer Derek Chauvin kneels on Floyd's neck for over eight minutes. The arrest and death from excessive force stems from allegations that Floyd used a counterfeit $20 bill at a nearby deli. Chauvin had 18 complaints on record before the incident, which drew charges of third-degree murder and second degree manslaughter.
Tuesday, May 26
Early on, reactions to Floyd's death manifest as peaceful protests and demonstrations throughout Downtown Minneapolis-St. Paul. However, as day wears on, the unrest escalates and rioting, fires, and looting sweeps through the streets. Throughout the week, outrage surrounding the event sparks protests in over 100 U.S. cities, with many taking violent turns.
Saturday, May 30
A peaceful protest in Perry Square escalated, with damages to persons, property, and the community's psyche that are sure to linger.
- 6 p.m. — Hundreds of protestors gather peacefully in Perry Square without incident.
- 9:12 p.m. — A group of about 400 coalesces around Erie City Hall, with some individuals vandalizing the property with spray paint and shattered windows. At this point, police declare the protest unlawful and ask the crowd to leave
- 9:30 p.m. — After issuing three warnings for the gathering to disperse, the situation becomes violent, with projectiles including large fireworks directed toward enforcement officers, now donning full riot gear. Tear gas is shot into the crowd as it is pushed northward along State Street away from the Erie Police Dept. and City Hall.
- 11:30 p.m. — Violence and destruction peaks as man is shot in the leg and 11 properties are damaged with bricks and Molotov cocktails, including:
- U Pick 6 Tap House, 333 State St.
- Ember + Forge, 401 State St.
- Gone Local, 405 State St.
- Old Customs House, 415 State St.
- Cashier's House, 417 State St.
- Happy Garden, 418 State St.
- 419 Artifacts, 419 State St.
- Subway, 425 State St.
- Al DeLuca's State News and Variety, 431 State St.
- Starbucks, 502 State St.
- expERIEnce Children's Museum, 420 French St.
- Erie Otters Offices, 201 E. Eighth St.
- 11:55 p.m. — Erie Mayor Joe Schember declares state of emergency
- 12:30 a.m. — Situation contained, last protestors disperse
By early Sunday morning, seven arrests had been made and a dozen officers had been injured. Downtown continued to clean up and recuperate from the events on Monday.
Matt Swanseger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org