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.
The protests lasted more than five hours after beginning at the park, followed by a march throughout the downtown area.
As organizers attempted to end the event with a call for activists to stay motivated, one activist threw a firework onto Market Street, spurring an argument between a group of protesters and organizer Brie Stevens, who told them not to disrupt the peaceful event.
According to Stevens, a black man was then arrested by several police officers for allegedly having a loaded weapon. The Chattanooga Police Department was not able to confirm the arrest early Tuesday.
The crowd then gathered at the end of the park near M.L. King Boulevard and Georgia Avenue in a standoff with the Chattanooga police.
While organizers begged them to be peaceful, many activists verbally antagonized the police — shouting insults and mocking them.
When state troopers arrived, they and Chattanooga Police Department officers formed a line on the park lawn and protesters formed a line, this time about 10 feet across from each other.
Speakers played music as some activists chanted and a handful of organizers tried to keep the peace around 1 a.m.
A tearful Stevens told the Times Free Press there's no right way to protest when people are this mad, but said she didn't believe the crowd was prepared for a fight with police.
"We aren't ready for that, I don't care what people think," she cried, referencing Sunday evening's tear gassing of protesters and other violence. "I don't want to see any more dead black babies."
Chattanooga has seen rolling demonstrations since Saturday as residents join nationwide protests of the death of a handcuffed African American man, George Floyd, under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25.