Rioters in North Carolina’s capital city smashed windows, splashed red paint and threw objects at law enforcement officers Friday night after ignoring a curfew imposed on a downtown protest, according to reports.
The crowd in Raleigh also removed barriers from outside the Wake County Justice Center and tossed them into the street or into nearby bushes, Raleigh’s WRAL-TV reported.
“I would rather die out here tonight of pepper spray, rubber bullets and sticks than to die on the streets with people thinking I’m a devil,” Jeffrey Stallings, 34, of Raleigh, told the News & Observer as he waved a piece of barricade. “We’re people. We’re brothers and sisters.”
Raleigh joined a list of cities nationwide – including New York City, Atlanta, Louisville, Ky.; Denver, Seattle, Portland, Ore.; and Los Angeles – that have seen frequent protests against police use of excessive force against African Americans and other minorities.
But critics say the unrest has been more about vandalism, looting and taking advantage of opportunities to commit other crimes.
Earlier in the evening in Raleigh, a group formed a circle and watched an American flag being burned, according to the station.
Soon a bystander came over and stomped out the fire, the report said.
Members of the crowd said they wanted Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman to step down, alleging Freeman was helping to promote institutional racism.
Just a day earlier, Freeman had cleared a White Raleigh police officer of charges following the January shooting death of a Black man, WRAL reported.
That man, named Keith Collins, had been carrying a BB gun, the News & Observer reported. Freeman ruled that Officer W.B. Tapscott had acted lawfully in the shooting.
At one point Friday, the crowd neared 1,000 people, the News & Observer reported.
Police had used social media to urge people not to be destructive but it soon appeared that plan wasn’t working.
Shortly before 10 p.m., police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly, prompting a portion of the crowd to head over to the Statehouse – where dozens of police officers in riot gear were waiting for them, the newspaper reported.
By 11 p.m., much of the crowd had dispersed.