FORT WORTH, Texas - There was a peaceful protest in Fort Worth Monday night just hours after the city implemented a new curfew.
The citywide curfew went into effect at 8 p.m. Protest organizers said they planned to follow it but hundreds of people remained outside after it started.
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Video from SKY 4 showed a diverse crowd gathered outside the old courthouse in Downtown Fort Worth. Many people were carrying signs, expressing their anger and frustration over the death of George Floyd and police brutality nationwide.
Some officers were seen hugging protesters. Many applauded the gesture of police working to show unity.
Donnell Ballard’s voice was hoarse from three nights of yelling out for justice with his group United My Justice.
“Change your policies. Change your policies, do better with the community. Stop doing what you’re doing and just do a better job,” Ballard said of his goals for protesting. “I want everybody to know we don’t represent violence, we don’t represent breaking, breaking into anyone’s places, that’s not who we are.”
“I think we’re in shaky times right now and that calls for a different perspective without violence. Doing the news or doing something like what we’re doing right now, it gets your word across just as well,” added Ashton Smith, who was part of the demonstrations.
Fort Worth police said they want to give people space to express themselves but ask that it is always done peacefully and with safety in mind.
At the end of the night, Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus and other officers took a knee and prayed with people in the crowd. Afterward, they agreed to go home for the night.
Tense Standoff on Sunday
City leaders implemented the curfew following a night of demonstrations that were violent at times.
“As we were leaving downtown, our bike officers heard from people inside the crowd and also heard with their own ears that there was an element inside the crowd that there was planning to cause damage when they got to West 7th Street,” said Chief Kraus.
Kraus said police blocked the bridge and told protestors to turn around, which many did. But at one point, those that stayed started throwing objects at police. After repeated warnings, smoke, gas, and flashbangs were used to disperse the crowd.
“We’ve not used gas on a crowd in Fort Worth in 30 years, is what I’m told. I didn’t want to be the one to bring that back,” Kraus said. “Unfortunately the rocks, the ice filled bottles, the bleach filled bottles and the pyrotechnic inside the officer line, there is a point where you have to use the tools you’re trained to use.”
Police said three officers were injured. One was hit by an ice ball. One officer broke a leg while pursuing someone causing damage at Montgomery Plaza and one officer twisted knee.
According to police, about 50 people were arrested Sunday night and businesses in Montgomery Plaza and downtown were damaged.
Mayor Betsy Price said the curfew was imposed with public safety in mind.
“This decision was not made easily but it comes at the recommendation of our partners and the police chief. We put our heads together and decided what was right for our community,” she said.
The curfew is in effect through Thursday but it could be extended.