Peaceful protest turned violent Saturday ends with tear gas thrown from police into crowds

Published: May. 31, 2020 at 2:24 AM CDT
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Beginning at Haskell Park in Rockford at 4 p.m. Saturday, a peaceful protest began before gradually ending with violence around 11 p.m. when Rockford Police threw tear gas into the crowd.

The protests were part of a nationwide outrage after the death of George Floyd Monday in Minneapolis. Floyd, a black man, died while in police custody. The police officer, a white man, who pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck as he begged for air was arrested Friday and

​ with murder.

In several cities

​, curfews have been enforced but crowds broke those to try and stem violent protests over police killings of African Americans.

For the Rockford protest, a majority of the protesters were civil and peaceful but some unrest came about at the end.

The violence and unrest started after the protestors walked through downtown Rockford and moved to Rockford Police District 1 Headquarters at 1045 W. State Street around 7 p.m. Videos showed people throwing rocks and water bottles at the station, breaking a few windows on the building and one police car.

In addition, the District 1 sign in front of the head quarters was destroyed, with protestors shown stomping the shield on the ground and ripping the letters off the signage. Members of the Rockford Police Department SWAT team formed a perimeter around the station to keep demonstrators away from the building as well.

Rockford Police tweeted out just before 9 p.m. for the protestors to go home, peacefully. Many did but at the same time, many remained.

Police responded to the thrown rocks and bottles by using pepper spray and eventually several rounds of tear gas later Saturday evening.

While an exact number of arrests is unknown, several people were arrested by officers after many physical confrontations occurred.