New Orleans police defend tear gas use during bridge protest

Louisiana

New Orleans police wait for marchers making their way up the on-ramp of the Crescent City Connection bridge on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, during a protest over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis. (Chris Granger/The Advocate via AP)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tear gas was deployed against protesters during a late night encounter in New Orleans only after demonstrators tried to forcibly cross police lines on an approach to a Mississippi River bridge, the police chief said Thursday.

Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson began a Thursday news conference by showing video of police discussing the situation with protest leaders — and allowing protest leaders to address the crowd using police public address systems.

“We were talking to them, engaging them,” Ferguson said.

He emphasized that one woman addressing the crowd refused to advise demonstrators not to attempt to cross. On the video, an organizer could be heard telling men to get to the front of the line ahead of the attempt to cross the police line. Ferguson said leaders also advised women to remove jewelry before attempts to cross the police line were made.

Ferguson said police did not fire rubber bullets or other projectiles. He said three New Orleans residents were arrested along with two out-of-towners, one from Belgium and one from Massachusetts.

The Wednesday night demonstration was one of the continuing protests around the nation arising from the police custody death of George Floyd.

Ferguson expressed sympathy with the protesters’ cause. “It was a murder that occurred,” Ferguson said, referring to Floyd’s death. He also said police must continue to improve relations with the community.

“We do agree, things could and should be better,” Ferguson said. “Our relationships could and should be better, not just here but nationwide.”

New Orleans continues to implement reforms under a federal court agreement reached with the U.S. Justice Department. That agreement, reached after former Mayor Mitch Landrieu took office in 2010, was the culmination of decades of recurring scandals and complaints of police violence.

Wednesday’s confrontation on an approach to the bridge known as the Crescent City Connection came hours after a rally and march began near New Orleans City Hall. It was the latest in a string of largely peaceful protests in New Orleans and one of the continuing protests around the nation arising from the death of Floyd and other African Americans killed by police.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana issued a statement Thursday morning calling the deployment of tear gas “violent and unlawful.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

More Check This Out
Loving Living Local 600x600

Don't Miss