CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For a second night, protesters in Charlotte gathered to demonstrate against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
After peaceful protests earlier Saturday in Charlotte and Rock Hill, protesters in Charlotte began clashing with Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department officers after sunset.
Around 8 p.m., a group of protesters had moved onto Interstate 277. They were eventually dispersed from the interstate but continue to protest throughout uptown Charlotte in the hours that followed.
Protesters marched outside CMPD headquarters before moving into the heart of uptown near the Epicentre.
Eventually, flashbangs, tear gas, and pepper spray would be used to try and disperse crowds.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says 30 people were arrested Saturday night as a result of "violent riots," six of them in possession of firearms. Fifteen people had been arrested the night prior.
Fifteen people had been arrested the night prior.
Ahead of the second night of protests, a State of Emergency had been declared in Charlotte.
Protesters have been gathering across the country over the death of George Floyd, who died Monday after being taken into custody by the Minneapolis Police Department.
Protests in Charlotte turned violent Friday night, leading to several arrests, including Charlotte City Councilman Braxton Winston.
FRIDAY NIGHT PROTESTS: Charlotte protesters clash with police
What follows is a record of events Saturday night as captured by our WCNC Charlotte live blog.
Real-time updates of protests in Charlotte:
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department tweeted a statement from Chief Kerr Putney:
"We are going to establish order after our officers have been assaulted. We have not been aggressive. We are responding to aggression. We owe it to all members of the community to continue this heroic work. We have done a fantastic job de-escalating situations, and I'm proud of our officers' work."
Putney had a similar message for WCNC Charlotte viewers Friday evening:
CMPD announces thirteen total arrests during protests that began Saturday night. Officers recovered four illegally possessed weapons, the police department said.
"The number of protesters has dwindled," CMPD tweets. "Small group lit a trash can on fire at 4th and Church Streets."
In response to protests seen in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro and across the state, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper tweeted early Sunday morning saying, "Frustrating that planned peaceful protests about real systematic racism are marred. I am grateful for those seeking justice peacefully."
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department confirmed at least eight people were arrested during Saturday night's protests. Charges range from assault to illegal gun possession.
First responders successfully remove the man from the steel grate. The severity of his injuries is not yet known at this time.
A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer has suffered minor injuries during Saturday night's protest, CMPD has announced. The officer has been transported to the hospital for treatment of their injuries. It was not immediately known the nature or cause of those injuries.
Multiple protesters told WCNC Charlotte that a person fell through a grate in uptown. A rescue is underway.
The person appeared to be moving their fingers and hands and is responsive, but has not been removed from the scene of the fall yet.
The Charlotte Transportation Center in uptown Charlotte has temporarily closed due to the protests.
As protesters are moving back away from a line of police, more flashbangs went off. The crowd seems to be being pushed toward the Epicentre and has moved away from the CMPD Headquarters.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Kerr Putney told WCNC Charlotte his officers are engaging with protesters who are throwing rocks and bottles at police officers.
"We can't stand for people assaulting our officers," Chief Putney said.
Additional protesters were detained in uptown. The individuals were held on the ground as they were detained. The cause of their arrests is not yet known.
At 10:32 p.m., CMPD tweeted that three protesters in total had been arrested so far. Of the three, two were arrested on gun charges — one with a handgun, the other with a rifle. The third person was charged with assaulting a government official.
WCNC reporters in the field have seen more than three protesters in handcuffs, so the number may be higher. But as of 10:35, CMPD has confirmed three arrests.
Something on the front line caused the crowd of protesters to run back from East Trade Street, but it's not known what at this time.
As WCNC Charlotte's Hunter Saenz was reporting at the scene, a protester lit a firework. Then minutes later, protesters started retreating again — the cause is not known.
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden told WCNC Charlotte he defends the right for peaceful protests but says the public needs to follow the law.
When it comes to creating change in the community, Sheriff McFadden said the way we've been doing things won't cut it.
"Talking to the same people, calling the same people to the same meetings is not going to work," Sheriff McFadden said.
Groups of protesters quickly dispersed just before 10:10 p.m., but it's not known why. A protester appears to have fallen or gotten injured while dispersing. A crowd surrounded the protester and poured water or milk on her face after potential exposure to tear gas.
A Charlotte man named Sam, also known as "the Jesus Saves guy" told WCNC Charlotte's Hunter Saenz that the protests have been an opportunity to show the world that Charlotte loves its community and stands up for its own.
"I'm human, I get scared, I don't want to even be out here, but it's the love of Christ that brings me," Sam said.
CMPD told protesters If they don't disperse, they will be subject to arrest.
WCNC Charlotte's Lexi Wilson confirms that tear gas and rubber bullets have been used around the uptown protesters. Wilson herself has felt the effects of the tear gas.
A woman told WCNC Charlotte she was peacefully protesting with a group of people when CMPD officers started using tear gas.
"I heard a loud bang, I'm not sure what that was it if was a flashbang or whatever it was, we weren't doing anything," a protester named Kristen told WCNC Charlotte's Hunter Saenz.
As she was speaking to WCNC, another flash bang was heard. Kristen told WCNC that was the third one she'd heard tonight.
WCNC asked why Kristen, who is from Kannapolis, came to Charlotte for the protests.
"I'm black," she said. "I'm tired of people that look like me being killed."
She said she's hopeful for the community, but she's not hopeful that the system will change soon.
Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte NAACP, spoke to WCNC Charlotte as the protests escalated in uptown Charlotte.
Mack said she believes people from outside Charlotte are intervening in the Charlotte community's peaceful protests.
A large group of protesters has gathered outside the CMPD Headquarters in uptown Charlotte. They were peacefully chanting "I can't breathe" and "Black Lives Matter" when CMPD officers swarmed around a woman being taken into custody.
As officers circled around the woman, protesters rushed to see what was happening.
CMPD said around 150 protesters were in front of the CMPD headquarters in uptown. One protester was arrested for possession of a concealed firearm.
WCNC Charlotte's Mike Hanson reports a second person was detained, but CMPD has not released information on that at this time.
Charlotte city councilman Tariq Bokhari spoke with WCNC Charlotte, saying he would not advocate for a curfew because of the enforcement response it would require.
Additionally, he said he would not advocate for any halt on the selling of alcohol, saying it would hurt local businesses and restaurants that are just now starting to get business back.
A protester told WCNC Charlotte's Lexi Wilson about his experience, as a Jamaican, seeing protests spread nationwide this past week after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.
He told WCNC he feels like people are coming together, but he's not sure if it's resonating with others.
"I feel like basically they're listening, but they don't care," he said.
CMPD police officers are mobilizing, and left the I-277 ramp where they had been lined up. It is not yet known where officers are heading.
A group of protesters circled around the individual who was previously seen lying on the ground. The protesters fanned the individual using their protest signs, some leaned in to hug the individual, and others stood in front to block the person to shield them from view.
The group stopped what they were doing to pray over the individual.
CMPD confirms that both lanes of the road previously blocked have reopened.
CMPD announced they will reopen the I-277 ramp after protesters are moved off of the premises. Protesters have relocated to across the street from the on-ramp, to allow traffic to continue. Cars passing protesters honked their horns as they drove by.
One person was seen on the ground in front of the wall of police, but at this time it is not known if they were injured.
Protesters have clashed with police on the I-277 outer loop ramp. A line of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers on bicycles blocked off protesters.
CMPD said approximately 100 protesters were on the ramp.
WCNC Charlotte's Hunter Saenz is at the scene and says protests had so far remained peaceful.