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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / A crowd of demonstrators listen as Marie Mott, activist and candidate for City Council, speaks during protests over police brutality on Thursday, June 11, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Since the protests inspired by the death of George Floyd began in Chattanooga on May 30, police have made at least 28 arrests, 25 of which took place during the first three days of the demonstrations, according to Hamilton County court records.

Protesters have taken to the streets across the nation and world demanding action from their city governments and police departments after Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died as a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground with his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

About half of those arrested in Chattanooga face charges stemming from either refusing to get out of the road or resisting a police line. Others face more serious allegations, including two firearm-related arrests, as well as stealing police riot gear, throwing rocks or fireworks at police and protesters or destroying or vandalizing public property.

The first group of arrests came after protesters resisted police efforts to push them from the intersection of Frazier Avenue and Tremont Street into Coolidge Park on May 30. Some physical altercations broke out between protesters and police, and at least five people were taken to the Hamilton County Jail that night.

The following day, three men were arrested for allegedly vandalizing two lampposts on the steps of the Hamilton County Courthouse on Georgia Avenue.

About two or three protesters climbed the steps and were seen trying to untie a U.S. Census banner that had been tethered between the lamp posts. They then threw the banner off the top of the stairs while a majority of the crowd of protesters yelled, "Don't do it." But by then, one of the lampposts had been toppled over.

At that point, Hamilton County Sheriff's Office deputies burst through the building's glass doors with non-lethal weapons drawn and tackled multiple people. However, a Times Free Press video shows the two protesters who were responsible for untying the banner and subsequently toppling the lamp post were leaving or had already left the stairs by the time deputies came out.

One of the men arrested is accused of fighting deputies by "kicking [the deputy] and another deputy in the face, breaking the glasses of both," according to an arrest report.

The sheriff's office would later deploy tear gas in an effort to disperse the crowd.

A total of 10 people were arrested on May 31.

Then on June 1, a man was arrested by Chattanooga police after he was seen appearing to cause "chaos and disorder throughout the day for protesters," according to court records.

At one point, an undercover Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent saw the man throwing fireworks into the crowd of protesters, which caused a large group to break from the crowd, running and screaming, some tripping and falling on the road and into other lanes of traffic, court records state.

Throwing the fireworks into the crowd could have, or may have, caused "serious injury to protesters; burns, eye injuries and/or death should someone have ran out in front of a car," police wrote in an arrest report. "Several protesters ran in fear for a block or so and appeared to not know where they were going."

When police took the man into custody, they said he smelled strongly of an intoxicant and was in possession of two lighters.

Another man was arrested the same day for handing rocks and "explosive devices" to protesters, according to court records. And another man was arrested for allegedly spitting at an officer's face and landing on another officer.

Later Monday night, Trevan Young, 29, was arrested after police said they received a credible tip that there was an armed individual with possible intent to do harm to people attending the local protest. Police said they found a disassembled AR-15 concealed in Young's backpack with multiple AR-15 magazines, two of which were loaded and easily accessible to him.

A total of 10 people were arrested on June 1.

No arrests were made the following day. But on June 3, another gun arrest was made.

Kevin Leko, 35, was arrested after police got a call about a man standing atop a building along the protest route in the 1400 block of Market Street with what appeared to be an assault rifle. In his bag, police said, they found an AK-47 rifle, two 9mm handguns and a revolver, all of which were loaded. They also reported finding a broken-down PA-224 and various loaded magazines for each weapon with the exception of the revolver.

Later that day another man was arrested for reportedly stealing two police batons and a riot shield from an unlocked trailer belonging to the Chattanooga Police Department's special operations team, according to court records.

Police had been alerted to a suspicious man walking eastbound on Patten Parkway "possibly concealing a bat or baton," court records state.

"Due to the current conditions of the protests ... and the close proximity of this party to the protesters" police stopped him for questioning, an officer wrote in an arrest report.

The man told police he took the items from the unlocked trailer and hid them once he noticed police, court records state. He then returned the items to police.

No more arrests were made until June 6 when Chattanooga police arrested a man for allegedly breaking two street lights and confronting protesters. Since then, no arrests have been made, according to police and court records.

As of Friday evening, four defendants — those arrested at the intersection of Tremont and Frazier — have had their charges dismissed. Two others have pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct charges and have been ordered to complete 10 days of community service. The remaining defendants still have pending court dates as early as Monday and as late as September.

Contact Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @Hughes Rosana.

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