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Photo by Alfredo Panameno/Sky's the Limit Media

Some state and local leaders are questioning how law-enforcement, specifically Virginia State Police, handled what began as a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in the Manassas area Saturday evening.

A Facebook video shows state Del. Lee Carter, D-50th, confronting troopers at the scene of the gathering at Sudley Road and Sudley Manor Drive Saturday night, and eventually being sprayed with what appeared to be pepper spray.

“Please know that while those protests were taking place, myself, along with several of my colleagues made it clear to county police that we are against the use of tear gas,” Prince William County Supervisor Margaret Angela Franklin, D-Woodbridge, said in a statement Sunday. “However, state police did in fact use tear gas and pepper spray. Several members of both the state and congressional delegations have made several calls to state police and the Northam administration to figure out what happened and why the use of tear gas.”

Prince William County police said five arrests were made and seven law-enforcement officers injured during the protest, which began about 5 p.m. with peaceful demonstrators holding signs and chanting along Sudley Road near Bull Run Plaza to protest the death of George Floyd, who died as Minneapolis police officers kneeled on his neck during an arrest May 25.

The Manassas protest was one of dozens that turned violent Saturday night across the nation, including in Washington, where demonstrators turned to vandalism, looting and setting fires around Georgetown and CityCenter late Saturday into early Sunday.

In Manassas, police say the initial crowds “increased significantly and became violent” as some of the protesters proceeded into Sudley Road, stopping traffic, and throwing objects at passing motorists and officers.

“Some of the protesters were also observed standing on top of motorist’s vehicles that were stopped as a result of the obstruction and atop businesses in the area,” Prince William County police 1st Sgt. Jonathan Perok said.

At that point, police declared an unlawful assembly and attempted to clear the demonstrators, who numbered about 250 at the highest point.

State troopers used “non-lethal tactics, such as OC 'pepper' spray and powder" in attempts to control the crowd, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

As the protest moved through the Sudley Manor Drive area, windows were broken at BB&T bank, the AT&T store, Best Buy, Taco Bell and KFC, among others. Two small fires were reported in bushes and a trash receptacle and “numerous police vehicles” were damaged, Perok said.

In all, four Prince William County police officers and two state troopers were injured. A Prince William officer suffered a serious head injury and a state trooper was hurt when a brick was thrown at her head.

Police made five arrests, including the driver of a vehicle charged with DUI and other offenses for driving through a police perimeter, nearly striking officers posted at the location, Perok said. The other charges placed as a result of the disturbance included unlawful assembly and obstruction of justice.

Many protestors said the gathering had been peaceful until a few people showed up and began throwing rocks and bottles. They also said the arrival of police en masse wearing riot gear seemed to rile the crowd.

“The use of pepper-spray and projectiles by police tonight against protesters in Manassas demanding justice after murder, violence and racism toward the Black community was wrong,” said state Del. Danica Roem, D-13th. “The people have a right to exercise their First Amendment rights and be heard without being harmed.”

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(20) comments

timt

Since Trump continues to encourage this escalation of violence in our communities that is unfortunately happening, it's up to others to show the way towards a solution to this crisis. Below is what former President Obama has written. THIS is what leadership looks like, not calling for even more force to make matters even worse or cowering in the WH bunker like a coward. Competent leadership like this has been sadly lacking from our country for the past 3 1/2 years.

How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change

As millions of people across the country take to the streets and raise their voices in response to the killing of George Floyd and the ongoing problem of unequal justice, many people have reached out asking how we can sustain momentum to bring about real change.

Ultimately, it’s going to be up to a new generation of activists to shape strategies that best fit the times. But I believe there are some basic lessons to draw from past efforts that are worth remembering.

First, the waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States. The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation — something that police in cities like Camden and Flint have commendably understood.

On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause. I saw an elderly black woman being interviewed today in tears because the only grocery store in her neighborhood had been trashed. If history is any guide, that store may take years to come back. So let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it.

If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.

Second, I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.

Moreover, it’s important for us to understand which levels of government have the biggest impact on our criminal justice system and police practices. When we think about politics, a lot of us focus only on the presidency and the federal government. And yes, we should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it. But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.

It’s mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions. It’s district attorneys and state’s attorneys that decide whether or not to investigate and ultimately charge those involved in police misconduct. Those are all elected positions. In some places, police review boards with the power to monitor police conduct are elected as well.

Unfortunately, voter turnout in these local races is usually pitifully low, especially among young people — which makes no sense given the direct impact these offices have on social justice issues, not to mention the fact that who wins and who loses those seats is often determined by just a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes.

So the bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.

Finally, the more specific we can make demands for criminal justice and police reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause and then fall back into business as usual once protests have gone away. The content of that reform agenda will be different for various communities. A big city may need one set of reforms; a rural community may need another. Some agencies will require wholesale rehabilitation; others should make minor improvements. Every law enforcement agency should have clear policies, including an independent body that conducts investigations of alleged misconduct. Tailoring reforms for each community will require local activists and organizations to do their research and educate fellow citizens in their community on what strategies work best.

But as a starting point, here’s a report and toolkit developed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and based on the work of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing that I formed when I was in the White House. And if you’re interested in taking concrete action, we’ve also created a dedicated site at the Obama Foundation to aggregate and direct you to useful resources and organizations who’ve been fighting the good fight at the local and national levels for years.

I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting — that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life.

But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.

Let’s get to work.

Brad London

Liberal democrats continue to show their true colors. They don't care about George Floyd, rioters just want to riot. Enough of this nonsense. Once it becomes violent, the police and national guard should come down hard on the fools. Vote republican VA and Manassas otherwise this is what you should get used to.

derek005

Trump supporters will never call him out for his lies and believe anything he says, yet they will prosecute their family and friends for a simple lie. This is why we have so many negative comments on this board because Trump supporters are ignorant to true facts. They watch Fox knowing it is spinning and misleading them, and this is why Trump says he :loves the poorly educated" folks that vote for him. Trump doesn't care about any of us and all he wants from you supports is your vote.

Cultured2014

interesting in how elected officials not only support the violence and destruction, but participate in it. i'm sure manassas must be proud of their elected delegate. this is just unbelievable.

stopcrying

Just curious as to how the police can provoke violence during a peaceful protest. Did they force or dare people to break windows of businesses and throw bricks, or is it just a natural reaction when some of the protesters see police

yellowz51

Prince William county is not a community of choice as the Dems in the county government claim, it is instead a place where people move when they have no choice due to pricing in the rest of the DC metro area. As such, those of us living here, by choice or not are forced to live with a scum of the earth majority!

PleaseElaborate

Cost of living in PWC is 4th in the area, so the notion that we’re here simply because we can’t hack it in other locations... FALSE. We live here by choice just like the rest of yous. I know you wish the “scum of the earth majority” were of African descent. Unfortunately, they weren’t. Out of those arrested for criminal acts against LEO, 2 were black, 4 were white and 1 latino. But please, continue on with your soapbox speech

The_broof

Dont call the cops when your car is hit by rocks or vandalized. Crimes like these should be legal so vote democrat.

Senior

To bad Roehm and Franklin weren’t there as well to get a taste of the gas or pepper spray. They deserve it. Carter, Roehm and Franklin are all tools. When bricks and bottles are thrown, all bets are off. How did 7 seven police officers get hurt if it was peaceful. Wake up to these liberal dems and vote them out in November!

Emran0403

Violence is not an option. I don't want so call "protesters " to destroy our communities. Police shall use force against anyone breaking the law.

yellowz51

This just shows the liberal a-holes in charge of the county and our state delegates. Once you start disturbing the peace, throwing bricks and bottles are bets are off. They are lucky the protesters were not shot on sight like they should have been. This county is rapidly becoming the next Prince Georges County, Maryland. Get our now why you can!

Lee Huftalen

Leave it to thuggish conservatives to blame EVERYTHING on liberals. Get a brain.

m444ss

Comments from state Del. Danica Roem (D-13), Prince William County supervisors and any other politicians who claim people have a right to protest - when that "protest" include violent criminal acts against people and property - are just wrong. In fact, the rest of us have a right to be secure in our homes and communities, and people committing violent criminal acts need to be held accountable.

Lee Huftalen

And when those same black folk were protesting peacefully during the National Anthem about the SAME EXACT THING, you complained about THAT!

m444ss

State Del. Danica Roem (D-13), Prince William County supervisors and any other politicians who claim people have a right to protest - when that "protest" include violent criminal acts against people and property - are either liars, idiots or nuts, quite possibly all three. In fact, the rest of us have a right to be secure in our homes and communities, and people committing violent criminal acts need to be held accountable.

PleaseElaborate

“...People committing violent criminal acts need to be held accountable.” Where was that same energy for George Floyd? No doubt, if a crime was committed, such as passing a fake note, he should be held accountable. Death though? Did he really deserve to die? It is painfully obvious that there was ZERO resistance, as street cams and mobile recordings have confirmed. I just want to know how you can mention one without the other. How is it possible to want justice for one crime but fail to event admit another has occurred?

Rebel

Hello123 - what about the vandalism?

What about interfering with traffic flow?

Intimidated? Seriously???

you suffering from TDS?

Get help!

Happy789

This article should be revised. The protesters did not block traffic until the police officers blocked off the road. We remained peaceful until the police provoked those who joined the protest for no perpose other than to intimidate them. Tear gas, pepper spray, and beatings by the police occurred with no remorse and those injuries are not accounted for. Please review this article and share the full story for the people instead of lies.

Hello123

A lot of misinformation and bias in this article. Protest was peaceful until police arrived to intimidate and provoke protestors. ALSO police shut down the streets NOT protestors so that is also false. IN ADDITION, dozens of protestors were hurt but their injuries are not reported here??? That is missing information. How are people of the community supposed to trust InsideNova when they report false news??? This is ridiculous!!? We demand this be revised.

geffert

Protest all you want, jump around and make speeches, once you get violent and start destroying property, looting and burning you deserve your ass handed to you.

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