DALLAS - Protests against police brutality happened simultaneously Thursday night in Dallas and in Charlotte.
Dallas police did not make their presence known during the Next Generation Network rally until protesters began to block traffic. Police were able to disperse the crowd, and no arrests were made.
The biggest surprise of the night was the return of Dominique Alexander who was released from jail early. There were also tense moments when protestors and counter-protestors clashed but did not get violent.
The protest began at the Main Street Garden where organizers made their message clear. They said they were not against police but rather police brutality and violence against the black community. They also encouraged the crowd to get out and vote in the upcoming election.
“Get out and get involved. Get out and vote and get in the process,” said Kim Cole with NGAN. “Don’t leave here and go back to your everyday life. Don’t leave here and let this moment be wasted.”
Alexander received a warm welcome from the crowd when he arrived at the rally. He was sentenced to five years in jail for a probation violation. He was then transferred to the Texas Department of Corrections last week to begin serving his five-year prison sentence for violating that probation. He says he was given time served and let out Thursday morning.
"They wanted to give me five years, but the judge went ahead and gave them five years. But the judge gave me five years and two months back time and slapped them right in the face,” he said. “This is real. We are ordained to do this. We have a call to do this. No man can knock you down. Nobody can knock you down because you are fighting for a purpose that is real."
During the rally, a counter-protestor with a ‘Blue Lives Matter’ sign was confronted by protestors after he got on stage. Doug Payton said he was standing his ground and exercising his right to protest as well.
After the confrontation, a police officer too Payton aside and asked him to step back for his personal safety.
Another confrontation happened when an African-American man in a cowboy hat was yelling, “All lives matter.” Protestors then confronted the man and other ‘Back the Blue’ supporters and demanded they say that black lives matter.
After Alexander’s speech, the crowd of about 100 people made their way through the street of downtown Dallas.
When protestors began blocking the streets, police officers responded in full riot gear. Protest organizers were able to convince the group to get off the street and back onto the sidewalks.
The protestors dispersed around 9.p.m.
The activist group organized a protest because they were upset about the “overreach of authority and lack of accountability in fatal shootings involving officers in Dallas and all across the country.”
Specifically, they referenced the deaths of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla., Tyre King in Columbus, Ohio, Terrence Sterling in Washington D.C. and Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, N.C. just this month.
Cole also spoke out about a shooting in Dallas last month-- in which an officer shot and killed a man. She says police have withheld information about that incident.
"The Dallas police department has issued absolutely no details. There hasn't been any dash cam footage. There hasn't been any bodycam footage. There hasn't been any details,” Cole said. “They haven’t said anything. That is why we’re here. We're here because this continues to persist all across the country. And as I previously stated we will be here until there are some changes made until there is some serious police reform not only in Dallas but across this country."
Dallas police answered the claim with a tweet today to FOX4 reporter Dionne Anglin saying "we have all the information released.” It provided a link to the press release it sent out on Aug. 24, the day of the shooting.
It said Officer Christopher Wagner, a 19-year DPD veteran, made a traffic stop and the suspect, 26-year old Elias Portillo, got out of the vehicle with a handgun and ran. Police say after a chase the suspect turned toward the officer with the gun and did not obey the officer’s commands. That's when the officer fired, killing him.
NGAN is the same group that organized the rally on July 7 when five Dallas police officers were killed by a lone gunman.