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Cleveland Under Curfew After Protests, Violence Downtown

A protester carries a sign asking "Am I next?" Saturday in Cleveland. [Jenny Hamel / ideastream]
A protester carries a sign asking "Am I next?" Saturday in Cleveland.

Updated: 10:20 p.m., Saturday, May 30, 2020.

The City of Cleveland ordered anyone downtown to leave the area immediately and implemented an 8 p.m. curfew Saturday night, warning people in violation would be subject to arrest. The curfew extends to 8 a.m. and will go into effect Sunday night at 8 p.m. as well. 

Gov. Mike DeWine said he would activate the Ohio National Guard to assist the city at the request of Cleveland and its police department.

In an email statement, DeWine said, "As is the case in Columbus, it is believed to be a relatively small group of violent individuals who are drowning out the voices of the many citizens who are peacefully expressing their desire for justice and change. In this time of deep anger, sadness, and frustration, we stand with those who are expressing their First Amendment rights, but we will not stand for those who wish to inflict pain and cause destruction." 

A masked person as seen in front of burning vehicles in downtown Cleveland Saturday [Jenny Hamel / ideastream]

In a joint statement, Mayor Frank Jackson and Chief of Police Calvin Williams said, "This violent unlawful behavior completely overshadows the purpose of the demonstrations and those in whose honor they are held. This criminal activity will also not be tolerated."

Cleveland police worked to disperse crowds around the Cuyahoga County Justice Center during protests against police brutality Saturday afternoon.

George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis. A viral video showed a Minneapolis police officer using his knee to pin him to the ground by his neck for several minutes. The video ultimately led to the firing of the officer, Derek Chauvin, and the three other officers seen in the video, as well as Chauvin’s arrest.

Trina Corlew of Cleveland joined the protest with friends holding up a “Black Lives Matter” sign.

Trina Corlew (left) with friends holding up a “Black Lives Matter” sign. [Jenny Hamel / ideastream]

“I am here because I am so exhausted of worrying about black people. Not being able to be treated equally, or live equally,” said Corlew.  “So I’m going to protest and do what I can do until things change.”

The protestors were a diverse group of young and old, black, Asian, white and Latino. 15-year-old DeAsia Washington said her mom brought her to the protest because she wanted to be a part of the change. 

Nina McLellan of Shaker Heights said she’d been to many protests in Cleveland, but had never seen a protest group of this size.

“It’s outrageous and sad that this is still going on,” said McLellan. “After so many years, and so many black lives lost. I think we have to keep showing up and speaking out.”

After the demonstration, the protestors marched through downtown. Many of the protest group left the scene after the march concluded.  However, hundreds remained and crowded around the Cuyahoga County Justice Center. Police issued dispersal orders after some demonstrators began throwing bottles of water and other objects at officers and banging on the windows of the Justice Center.

Cleveland Police then began to fire canisters of pepper spray at the crowd to move them away from the Justice Center building.  Protestors would, at times, throw a fired can of pepper spray back at police when it landed, causing the crowd to cheer.  Meanwhile, “FTP,” “Pig” and “Black Lives Matter” were spray painted on the Justice Center building. Some windows of the building were smashed.

Eventually, Cleveland Police officers and Cuyahoga County sheriff’s deputies dressed in riot gear formed a human barrier around the building, while law enforcement continued to shoot pepper spray into the crowd.

At least one officer was seen holding an orange shotgun. Police fired tear gas canisters at crowds as people moved south on West 3rd Street. Demonstrators threw them back.

A small group smashed the windows of two nearby Cleveland Police vehicles and set them on fire.


A police car was set on fire during Saturday's protest in Cleveland. [Jenny Hamel / ideastream]

A few blocks away, a crowd gathered at the intersection of East 9th and Euclid Avenue. Some kneeled and chanted, “I can’t breathe.” Others later joined the group at the intersection. Cars worked their way through as they passed south on East 9th.

Windows were also smashed at storefronts along Euclid Avenue. Boxes and cans of food were strewn along an aisle at Heinen’s, and debris and mannequins littered the ground inside Geiger’s. A few people carried mannequin limbs down the street. One group smashed windows at CVS and carried out food and other goods from inside.

Looting and damage at Geiger's in Cleveland Saturday. [Nick Castele / ideastream]

Demonstrators affixed a collage of protest signs to the Free Stamp. A copy of the Declaration of Independence was posted next to a sign reading, “Racism isn’t born, it’s taught”; the Bill of Rights next to a sign that read, “We can’t breathe, we need justice.”

Messages and signs on the Free Stamp in Cleveland Saturday [Nick Castele / ideastream]

One young woman, who asked to be called by her nickname, “Bubba,” said demonstrators were showing their frustration and exhaustion over the continuing police violence against people of color.

“People keep saying the system is broken. The system is not broken, because the people who made the system knew exactly what they were doing. The system is rotten to its core,” Bubba said. “It has to be dismantled and rebuilt so it’s equal and fair for everyone.”

The incident has sparked outrage and protests nationwide and across Ohio, including  demonstrations in Columbus this week, which resulted in broken windows at the Ohio Statehouse.

Cleveland police officers stand in front of graffiti from Saturday's protest. [Jenny Hamel / ideastream]