Police in Providence, Rhode Island have made more than a dozen arrests after a demonstration, sparked by a black moped rider being slammed by a cop car, descended into mayhem. One officer was injured.
Hundreds of people marched through the state’s capital on Tuesday night in solidarity with Jhamal Gonsalves, a 24-year-old black man who was knocked off his motorized scooter after allegedly being hit by a Providence police cruiser. Footage of the event was widely shared online.
The incident, which occurred while police were attempting to disperse hundreds of motorbikes that had assembled in the city’s streets, put Gonsalves in a coma. It’s still unclear whether the police vehicle actually collided with Gonsalves’ bike.
Demonstrators carried large banners reading “Stop racist police brutality” and “Stop the war on black America.”
Gonsalves’ father addressed the crowd, calling for “justice” for his son while urging the protesters to remain non-violent.
However, the rally quickly descended into skirmishes between police and demonstrators.
Footage shows angry protesters hurling projectiles at police as they attempted to pen in the demonstration. Law enforcement officials told local media that police were attacked with bottles, bricks and firecrackers. Videos show fireworks being launched amid the chaotic street scenes. Nineteen people were arrested over the course of the evening, local media reported, and one officer was injured.
Later in the night, Gonsalves’ father reached out to a local ABC affiliate, saying that he didn’t want his son’s name associated with “what’s happening right now” and once again urged for peaceful demonstrations.
Providence’s mayor, Jorge Elorza, vowed a “transparent and complete” investigation into the circumstances surrounding Gonsalves’ accident. The policeman involved in the incident, a six-year veteran of the force, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the probe.
Cities across the United States have been rocked by Black Lives Matter demonstrations following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police in May. Many of the protests have descended into looting, vandalism and violence.
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