OKLAHOMA CITY — Riots erupted Saturday night in protest of racial injustice and outrage after George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man, died under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin.
The protest began peacefully at 7:30 p.m. at the corner of Northwest 23rd Street and North Classen Boulevard with about 50 people. Those numbers quickly grew to over 1,000 at its peak.
As attendance increased, the protesters began to block the intersection of 23rd and Classen, leading to about 15 arrests.
Protesters could be heard chanting “I can’t breathe,” “black lives matter” and “justice for Floyd.”
Protesters then began marching down the street and stopping traffic. They formed a square and ended up in the same location they had begun about two hours earlier.
As the night fell, protesters decided to march upon the Oklahoma City Police Department headquarters. They began to break windows of stores and buildings as well as shoot off fireworks into the sky.
Those protesters were met with police in riot gear standing in a line fortifying their headquarters. Protesters then got within about 10 feet of the police line and knelt on the lawn in front of them, holding their hands up in the air.
They then began to chant, “hands up … don’t shoot” and also yelling obscenities at the police.
Meanwhile, some protesters began to riot, breaking the windows of police cars, smashing the hoods of those vehicles, as well as defacing them with graffiti. Protesters also began throwing rocks, bricks and then water bottles at the officers. In return, the police began to shoot tear gas in the direction of the protesters.
At 11:50 p.m. the officers gave the protesters 10 minutes to clear the area. That request was not met.
Officers again fired tear gas into the crowds. Rubber bullets, intended to be non-lethal, were shot at protesters who refused to move away from police or were seen throwing things in the direction of the officers.
While this was happening at the station, a couple blocks away a police car was reportedly on fire as part of the protest. Simultaneously, protesters broke into the Walgreens located at 23rd and Classen. There were no confirmed reports of looting, though the protesters did enter the building.
At about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, protesters began breaking down street signs. Police pushed forward from their original post in front of their headquarters, firing tear gas and rubber bullets in the direction of the protesters to disperse them.
A tree caught fire from one of the tear gas canisters. It is not known if it was an attempt by the protesters to throw that canister back that started the fire or not.
At about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, the protest dwindled to a couple dozen as the efforts of the police officers to disperse and stop the protests were successful.
“Although there were numerous arrests tonight when some of the protesters became violent, thankfully there were no serious injuries,” Oklahoma City police said a statement via Twitter.
The number of arrests made overnight in relation to the Oklahoma City protests is unknown.
Another protest is scheduled at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Oklahoma City.