Downtown protests continue for third night

Published 3:35 am Tuesday, June 2, 2020

SALISBURY — Police donned riot gear and used tear gas to disperse crowds during a third straight night of downtown protests on Monday.

Protests in Salisbury and across the nation have followed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and a viral video showing a police officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes before Floyd’s stopped breathing. In Salisbury, protests started Saturday afternoon with an event conducted mostly by vehicle. They have continued every night since.

After protesters on Monday chased two men down Church Street away from the steps of St. Johns Lutheran Church, they were met by a crowd of police in riot gear. A Highway Patrol helicopter hovered overhead.

For a large portion of the night, protests were centered around the “Fame” Confederate statue. With some members of the crowd on the base and others below, the group turned its attention at roughly 10:30 p.m. to the church’s steps — where they said Jeffrey Long, of Kernersville, was standing. Long faces two charges in connection with shots fired into the air during a protest on Sunday.

Josh Bergeron / Salisbury Post – Protesters surround two men standing on the steps of St. Johns Lutheran Church Monday night. A police officer is standing between protesters and the men.

Protesters surrounded the two men on the steps, shouting and chanting at them. Police officers initially stood between the protesters and two men before escorting them away, north on North Church Street.

At the intersection of Church and Council Streets, protesters were met by a small contingent of officers in riot gear that grew larger when mutual aid from other jurisdictions arrived. Those officers used riot shields to push back against protesters and tossed tear gas toward a crowd of a few dozen protesters. Officers formed a line and pushed protesters back toward the “Fame” Confederate monument.

Josh Bergeron / Salisbury Post- Police in riot gear stand in front of the Confederate statue “Fame” Monday during a protest that drew a crowd and prompted police to use tear gas.

There, protesters chanted at officers and locked arms. They formed a line in front of officers who positioned themselves in front of the “Fame” Confederate monument.

People lingered at the intersection until about 12:15 a.m., when a rock was thrown into a front window of the Salisbury Post’s building containing an artist’s drawing of a police officer, firefighter and a child beneath the Rowan County United Way logo.

A Salisbury Police officer took a report about the incident and city street crews provided a barricade to warn pedestrians on the sidewalk.

Andy Mooney / Salisbury Post – City of Salisbury street crews place a barricade in front of the Salisbury Post’s shattered window.

The crowd dispersed organically and police ordered others to leave or face arrest for unlawfully assembling.