This story was updated at 7:14 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, with more information.
Chattanooga police arrested a 29-year-old man carrying an AR-15 rifle and multiple magazines of ammunition Monday night in Miller Park during a largely peaceful protest against police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd while he was pinned under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
"This arrest likely prevented what could have been a very tragic situation," Chattanooga police said in a news release.
Acting on a tip that there was a likelihood for potential violence, officers noticed a man fitting the description given by an anonymous tipster. The person said a black man wearing a dark blue or black shirt, jeans and a tactical vest was seen leaving the Douglas Heights apartments with an AR-15 and several magazines while walking toward Miller Park, according to Hamilton County court documents.
Officers working in the Chattanooga Police Department's Real Time Intelligence Center spotted a man who matched the description on the department's safety cameras and told officers on the ground that the man was carrying an orange sign, court documents show.
"I observed the male, later identified as Trevan Young, walking north through the park, matching the description exactly," an officer wrote in the criminal affidavit. "I yelled at Mr. Young to stop and come talk to me, Mr. Young refused and kept walking."
The officer again yelled at Young to stop. When he continued to ignore the officer, the officer grabbed Young's hand, and that's when Young was taken to the ground and handcuffed before being brought back up on his feet, court records state.
Police found a disassembled AR-15 concealed in Young's backpack and multiple AR-15 magazines, one of which was loaded with .223 rounds and easily accessible to him from the load-bearing vest he was wearing, according to court records. Another loaded magazine was found in his right back pocket.
He was taken to the Hamilton County Jail where he was booked on a $8,000 bond. He is charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He is expected in court on June 22.
"The Chattanooga Police Department respects the First Amendment rights of our community members and will continue to support those protesting peacefully. We will also continue to remove those who intend to do harm," the news release states.
Young's charging documents made no reference to any evidence of a plan to attack anyone.
According to a Facebook page under his name and featuring Young's profile photo, Young said earlier Monday that it's "Weird how 'far right extremists' or 'white nationalists' are out willing to get arrested and have their gucci gear confiscated by 12."
"That narrative is eroding everyday," he continued. "Read the signs. End the Drug War. A war that has brought despair and instability to Black neighborhoods. Breona Taylor signs. They are also against no knock raids and various police issues. These men obviously ride with us.
"Don't let the corporate privately owned media cause you to disregard armed allies that are about that action. The haves pit the have nots at their neighbor to balkanize and fracture the movement."
The post featured a hashtag referencing the Boogaloo Boys, a group of far-right individuals associated with an online community characterized by calls for civil strife and ownership of firearms and tactical gear, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group has advocated for an armed revolution online and at public rallies for months. On April 11, one self-proclaimed "Boogaloo Boy" allegedly used Facebook Live to show himself attempting to kill police.
Brie Stevens, an organizer of the protest who managed crowds after the arrest created a standoff between police and activists, said people were never in danger from Young and it was the police reaction that spurred the worst of the protest.
"We do not condone violence at our protests," she said. "But I don't think [the police] response was appropriate. I watched nine people surround him, which goes back to the very root of why we're protesting."
Citing the treatment of Dylan Roof, a white supremacist who killed nine people at an African American church in South Carolina in 2015 with a similar weapon and was arrested without a physical altercation, Stevens said the aggressive arrest of Young was unnecessary and demonstrated the kind of treatment of black suspects that is being protested.
Stevens said Young only carried the weapon after seeing Hamilton County Sheriff's Office deputies deploy tear gas and point less lethal weapons at protesters on Sunday. Because of that, she said, the crowd was not scared of Young or armed black men, but rather of law enforcement personnel profiling and reacting to those activists.
"The way they handle an arrest can mean life or death police have a gang-like mentality of having each other's backs no matter what, and it's costing citizens their lives," Stevens said. "So I understand that it evokes fear that someone had a loaded magazine clip, several but nothing is more fearful than what black men feel every day."
Monday was the third day of protests for Chattanooga, and around 200 activists engaged in peaceful protests ended the event early Tuesday with a tense standoff at Miller Park with law enforcement officers. Organizers and police eventually found common ground and thanked each other as the crowd dissolved.
Contact Rosana Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @Hughes Rosana.
Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at email@example.com or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.