The protests in Perry Square last evening turned into a riot after dark.
Last night a lot of individuals downtown had their cellphones out recording fireworks that were being launched in different directions. Tear gas was also being lobbed from the roof of the Police Department.
“No justice, no peace” that was one of the phrases people were chanting as the peaceful protest began early Saturday evening.
One woman shared why the death of George Floyd brought her to the protest last night.
“I can’t get over it. It hurts me because it could be one of my sons,” said Emma Cooper, Protester at Perry Square.
The protests escalated as people took to the streets marching from Perry Square down to the Bayfront while blocking off State Street.
Another Protester said it was a personal experience that compelled him to join the march.
“When I was eleven or twelve years old, an Erie Police Department officer stuck his gun in my face. That stuff is regular to a black man in not only Erie Pennsylvania, but it’s regular to a black man in America,” said Kennedy Horton, Protester at Perry Square.
By nightfall the protest turned into a riot as people congregated in Perry Square. Police began lobbing tear gas to scatter the crowds.
The unrest continued and one resident explained why he and others stayed even after the police started using teargas and shooting rubber bullets.
“Every single person out here has a story to tell and it’s basically against the police. If they would come out and be part of the community, we would not be out here,” said an anonymous source.
Later in the evening, rioters became disorderly while shooting fireworks and damaging storefronts along the street.
Some members of the community said that the destruction of the property that occurred during the riot took away the initial message of the peaceful protest.
“These people don’t represent us and by doing that unfortunately we’ve lost a message that a mans life was taken,” said Jeff Natale, Erie Resident.
One man who was at the riots said he believes things got out of hand.
“I think we could’ve been more out of other peoples businesses. Leave their businesses alone,” said Ramon Green, Erie Resident.