Police arrested 71 people protesting the acquittal of Officer Michael Brelo in Cleveland on Saturday, the New York Times reports. At a news conference, Chief Calvin D. Williams said they were mostly arrested on charges of aggravated rioting and obstruction of justice.
Further demonstrations are expected through Memorial Day weekend, protesting the acquittal of Officer Brelo in the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30. Russell and Williams reportedly led officers on a 22-mile car chase on November 29, 2012, over the course of which 137 rounds were fired at their car.
Brelo alone fired 49 shots, and the chase concluded when he jumped on the hood of Russell’s car to fire 15. Some of those rounds were lethal. Officer Brelo is on unpaid leave, the Times reports, awaiting the results of an internal review paused during his trial.
Three people were arrested on Saturday after one threw a sign through the window of a restaurant. A patron was injured. Two of the three were arrested after interfering with the arrest of the first, Williams said.
Williams said the demonstrations began peacefully and turned aggressive as the night went on. “We only moved in to make arrests when things got violent and protesters refused to disperse,” he said. “We want people to understand, we’re going to help you in this process, but if things turn violent in this situation we will take action.”
“We continue to encourage peaceful protest and demonstration,” Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson said. “However, we will not tolerate demonstrations that cross the line.”
This characterization was disputed on Twitter.
Protests were entirely peaceful until drunken suburbanites started fights with protestors. https://t.co/KEXYmDmYyRMay 24, 2015
But...but there were no riots... https://t.co/ASybS0hX8SMay 24, 2015
So far, 72 officers have been suspended without pay as a result of the 2012 incident, the Times reports. One supervisor was fired, two more were demoted, and administrative charges against three officers were dismissed. Also, however:
Nine of the police officers disciplined for their roles in the shooting have filed a federal lawsuit against the city for racial discrimination. The officers—eight whites and one Hispanic—claim that they were disciplined more harshly because they were not black.