A crowd that swelled from a couple dozen protesters to more than 150 people took part in a more than 7-hour-long demonstration Friday night, and prepared to gather in even larger numbers on Saturday.
The Indianapolis protest was one of dozens that cropped up around the country Friday night, four days after a black man died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
George Floyd’s death on Memorial Day sparked outrage throughout the U.S. and ignited long-simmering racial tensions in major cities from coast to coast. It was one of several high-profile black fatalities in recent weeks.
One of those incidents came three weeks ago in Indianapolis, when a black Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer fatally shot 21-year-old Dreasjon Reed following a police pursuit. The car chase and the aftermath were broadcast live on Reed’s Facebook.
After exiting his car, police say Reed began to flee on foot. He had a gun, police said, and at some point, fired that weapon at police.
As he ran, the officer first attempted to stun him, then shot him. The investigation into Reed’s death is ongoing
Holding signs that said “Justice for Dreasjon Reed,” “Black Lives Matter” and “End White Supremacy,” demonstrators made clear that the pain they felt when Reed died was still fresh.
One woman at Friday’s downtown Indianapolis protest carried a sign that said, “Justice for Sean, Justice for Floyd.”
A second carried a poster remembering Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was killed in February while jogging through a predominately white neighborhood in Georgia.
No arrests were made for months until a white father and son were charged with murder and aggravated assault in early May.
Others remembered Breonna Taylor, who in March was shot and killed in her apartment by Louisville police.
Lamari Edwards, 20, told IndyStar that Floyd’s and Arbery’s deaths brought her to the Friday protest, but she said Reed’s death also hit home for her.
“It’s shocking to me that he was killed so effortlessly,” she said.
Indianapolis’ demonstration started hours after officials announced that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin had been arrested Friday on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
The Indianapolis event grew tense at times, as protesters verbally clashed with IMPD.
A couple of water bottles were thrown at officers and police confirmed that one demonstrator had been hit by a “chemical spray.”
But the protest was subdued compared to demonstrations elsewhere in the country.
The White House was put on lockdown. Minnesota’s governor enacted an 8 p.m. curfew in the Twin Cities after violent protests resulted in fires, looting and the abandoning of a police station.
In Atlanta, protesters set fire to police cars, threw rocks and smashed glass at CNN’s headquarters. Seven people were shot overnight Thursday in Louisville during violent protests there.
On Friday, a Louisville police officer was captured live on video shooting rubber bullets at a TV journalist while she broadcast on air.
But in Indianapolis, event organizers worked hard to keep the protesters calm. Those who threw water bottles were asked to leave.
A local Black Lives Matter group broadcast repeatedly on Facebook Live, and called on “white allies” to move to the front to form a human barrier between black protesters and the assembled police officers.
Many responded, linking arms and shouting “No justice! No peace!
The protest was held in the heart of downtown in the popular Monument Circle roundabout, on the steps of the Soldiers and Sailors memorial. On the red brick surrounding the statue, protesters wrote Dreasjon Reed’s and George Floyd’s names in chalk and broadcast live on Facebook “in solidarity with Minneapolis.”
A second demonstration is planned in Indianapolis on Saturday. Organizers said they planned to gather at 1 p.m. in front of the Indianapolis Convention Center and then march to Monument Circle.
At the south end of Monument Circle Friday, a protester briefly confronted two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officers who were monitoring the demonstration Friday. “What if those were your kids?” He asked angrily. The officers remained quiet.
“They’re killing our kids,” the protester said as he walked away. “I’ll be damned if I’m next.”
Contact IndyStar reporter Crystal Hill at 317-444-6094 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @crysnhill.