Lewisville police explain what led to tear gas, arrests at protest

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Protestors gather for a Black Lives Matter rally in Lewisville on June 2, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Southwell)

The Lewisville Police Department released a detailed account of what happened Tuesday night when a peaceful protest became confrontational, and the details match anecdotes posted on social media by several of the protestors.

On Tuesday evening, about 350 people gathered at Lewisville High School and marched about two miles to Wayne Ferguson Plaza in downtown Lewisville. A half-hour rally included comments from event organizers, City Councilman Brandon Jones and Police Chief Kevin Deaver. The march and rally went without incident.

But as protestors were walking back to their vehicles, an intoxicated man ran into oncoming traffic, according to the Lewisville Police Department. Officer told him to get out of the road, and he darted around cars before running back toward the group and knocking over a woman and child. A large group of the protestors spilled into the roadway, and officers responded to the incident and to take the intoxicated man into custody.

Many other protestors didn’t know what was going on with the intoxicated man, and apparently thought that police were arresting a fellow protestor, according to some of the people in the crowd. Some protestors tried to stop the officers, and some threw objects at the officers, who warned the crowd to disperse from the road. Then, police rolled a canister of tear gas into the crowd.

Most of the crowd dispersed, but a few didn’t and were arrested, according to police. Nine arrests were made in total, most for obstructing a public roadway. One protestor was also charged with assaulting a police officer, evading arrest and resisting arrest, and the man who knocked over the woman and child was arrested for public intoxication.

The rest of the demonstrators kept walking back to the high school, where they blocked the road again and threw rocks and other items at the police. Chief Deaver met with organizers to de-escalate the situation, and the organizers were eventually able to calm the crowd down, according to the police department. There were no other confrontations between demonstrators and police.

LPD said the four organizers helped to keep the peace, worked with police on traffic control measures and helped clean trash afterward.

“Their passion and leadership were invaluable, and we thank them for their efforts,” LPD said in its statement. “Lewisville PD made every reasonable effort to avoid confrontation with the demonstrators as they exercised their Constitutional right to publicly assemble and share their important message of equality and justice. It is unfortunate that a very small number of people decided to cause a disruption to what was otherwise a peaceful and powerful event.”

There were no injuries or property damage, and one foam impact round was fired at a protestor as he was picking up a tear gas container to throw back at the police, according to LPD. No pepper spray or rubber bullets were used. A bomb threat hours before the event was found to not be credible.

Lewisville Mayor Rudy Durham released the following statement regarding the protest:

“Like many of you, I have been closely watching events in Minneapolis this past week to see if justice would be done in the brutal and unwarranted killing of George Floyd. I watched to see if the police officers responsible for his death would be held accountable, or if their actions would be excused as has happened in other similar incidents.

Also like many of you, I was pleased this afternoon to hear that all four officers now face criminal charges. It remains to be seen whether they will be convicted and punished. It is not easy to ask for patience, especially from black Americans who have been asked to show unrewarded patience for decades. But I will remain patient and give the justice system time to work.

Last night (Tuesday, June 2), there was a march and rally in our city. More than 350 people – many of them teens and young adults – voiced their anger over the latest in-custody death and demanded change from their country. I commend them for taking action.

The event remained peaceful until afterward, when a small group of people confronted law enforcement officers and blocked a major intersection. I have read the after-action report from Police Chief Kevin Deaver and believe our officers acted in a manner appropriate to the situation. There were no reports of property damage and no injuries. We should not allow bad choices by a handful of people to tarnish the value of the demonstration itself.

Our country has a lot of work to do, and our city has to take part in that work. Lewisville’s diversity is one of our greatest strengths. It can remain a strength only if we set aside the things that divide us and labor side-by-side to respect and honor each individual human being.”

 

About The Author

Mark Smith

Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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