Protesters, police clash in downtown Fort Wayne

("Police Blue Lights" by Ken Hawkins, CC BY 2.0)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): Fort Wayne Police released a chemical agent, identified by some there as tear gas, during a demonstration in downtown Fort Wayne tonight.

It came as protesters spoke out over the death of George Floyd while being detained by Minneapolis police. One officer in the viral video of his arrest and death has since been charged with murder.

The demonstration in downtown Fort Wayne started at the Allen County Courthouse green, but eventually led to demonstrators sitting, marching, and standing in the middle of the road nearby.

Riot police were called to the scene, with more tear gas and rubber bullets deployed, as some demonstrators began to damage downtown buildings.

Journalists from several Fort Wayne media agencies, including the Journal Gazette and our Partners in News at ABC 21, also reported being hit with tear gas as they attempted to cover the story.

Mayor Tom Henry issued the following statement:

“Our country and community are hurting as a result of the passing of George Floyd. It’s a terrible tragedy for our society. Mr. Floyd’s death did not need to happen, and we pray tonight for his family and the many others who’ve faced injustices.”

“The City of Fort Wayne respects the rights of individuals to participate in peaceful demonstrations. Tonight’s demonstration in downtown Fort Wayne began peacefully. As the demonstration moved along, it began to get more aggressive and the safety of the public was being put at risk. The Fort Wayne Police Department ultimately had to respond in a manner to protect the public’s safety.”

“It’s vital that we come together united as a city that cares about one another and supports each other. That’s what we’ve been committed to in an effort to make Fort Wayne the best city possible. Now more than ever we need to respectfully and peacefully engage in productive dialogue and understanding as we grieve together, knowing that we can have better days ahead of us.”