Over the weekend, several Black Lives Matter protesters attempted to block a Pride parade in Columbus, Ohio. When police responded, they reportedly resisted arrest, and one suspect tried to disarm an officer, leaving several officers injured, the Columbus Division of Police said.
Four demonstrators now face charges ranging from disorderly conduct to aggravated robbery over Saturday’s confrontation.
Showing up for Justice Columbus, a group that organizes “white people to take action to fight white supremacy,” wrote on Twitter that the demonstrators were “disrupting Pride” to protest Friday’s acquittal of the Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile last year.
“Today myself and a group of other queer and trans PoC [People of Color] (and allies) staged a silent, peaceful protest in the middle of the pride parade to highlight the lack of support for queer POC trans folk within our community and the larger lgbtqia community,” Stephanie Ewen, one of the Black Lives Matter protesters, said in a statement on Facebook.
“Within a minute of us stepping into the street myself, Michaelaa Masonn, and others were pepper sprayed,” she said.
Video from the incident posted on Facebook shows close to a dozen protesters linking arms in the middle of the street. Some wore shirts saying “pride is political.” Police officers who arrived within minutes appear to be cheered by parade watchers.
In YouTube video, police use their bikes to disperse the protesters. At least one officer uses mace on the protesters, though this occurs off camera. At one point, a woman is heard yelling at a Pride Parade participant, “Your words are violent.”
In a Facebook post Saturday night Columbus police said they arrested protesters who “wouldn’t obey officers orders to leave the roadway at the parade.”
Four officers were injured, including one officer who suffered a torn ACL and another who is expected to remain off duty for “several months,” according to ABC-6
The four arrested could face charges ranging from disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, to “aggravated robbery,” and “causing harm to a police officer,” the Columbus Division of Police said in a Facebook post.
Several Columbus-area civil rights groups demanded the release of the four suspects, dubbed by social media the “BlackPride4.”
By deadline, neither the Pride March organizers nor the Columbus Police Communications Bureau had responded to Heat Street‘s request for comment.