UPDATE: On June 9, the Fort Worth Police Department announced that all charges for rioting from the protests had been dropped. "Anyone who protested and was arrested for assault, criminal mischief, vandalism, theft, etc. are not included in this and those cases will/are be/being investigated. This is solely for the charge of rioting," they clarified in a Facebook post.
What started out as a peaceful rally in Fort Worth descended into a standoff on May 31, part of a wave of violent protests that hit cities across the U.S.
Protestors across the country gathered to protest the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died on May 25 in Minneapolis following an encounter with police officers. Mineapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was videotaped pressing his knee on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds while onlookers begged the officer to ease off.
According to a release from the city of Fort Worth, protests in the downtown area remained peaceful until the night of May 31. The Fort Worth Police Department had blocked off streets to ensure the safety of protestors and bystanders, but a group of approximately 300 left the downtown area and moved west toward the West 7th District.
The release says that group was overheard making comments that they were going to “tear up West 7th," which police took as an intent to damage property.
Officers with the FWPD Downtown Bicycle Unit blocked the bridge in the 2000 block of West 7th Street, in an effort to redirect them back downtown. A standoff ensued for several hours.
By 10:15 pm, protestors began throwing frozen water bottles at officers. In response, Fort Worth's SWAT Unit deployed dispersal smoke and flash-bangs — efforts that were momentarily successful and dispersed some in the group.
But several dozen remained and continued to throw frozen water bottles at the officers.
The SWAT Unit responded with more dispersal smoke and flash-bangs, and the remaining protestors began setting off fireworks back at the officers. The SWAT Unit then deployed tear gas, and eventually dispersed the crowd.
By 1 am, officers were responding to calls of looting in the Montgomery Plaza/W 7th District area.
NBC5 has video of the standoff. Where did the protestors get frozen water bottles and pyrotechnics?