Greenville Police Chief and NAACP want peace after Saturday’s protest, arrests

GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – Greenville Police Chief Kenneth Miller and the Greenville branch of the NAACP Saturday’s are asking for peace following protests in Falls Park.

The protests ended with five arrests as protesters tried to block Church Street and Interstate 385 late Saturday night.

One of the people arrested had to be tased after police say he was was “actively fighting and choking a Greenville Police Officer”.

Other than injuries that are associated with Taser use, no other injuries were reported by demonstrators or law enforcement.

Greenville police say they want to work with groups like black lives matter to help them spread their message safely. They want to avoid another incident like what happened on I-385.

They’ll be doing that by enforcing city picketing rules and helping groups organize their rallies.

During a press conference Saturday, Greenville Police showcased Black Lives Matter leader Derrick Quarles’ Facebook live video he was streaming Saturday night. “We are headed to I-385. We are shutting it down,” Quarles can be heard saying in the video.

Moments after the video was taken, law enforcement swarmed the entrance and exit to Greenville on the interstate. It’s a move they say was made for everyone’s safety.

“In many cases if we asked people to go south, they went north. If we asked them to go left, they went right,” said Chief Ken Miller.

The Chief says 5 people, including Quarles, were then arrested for violating city ordinances that keep demonstrators out of busy streets. He says there were several times when the demonstrators were breaking city laws, but police didn’t intervene until the demonstration began moving toward the major roadway.

The group could be heard shouting “no justice, no peace” or “black lives matter” as they passed bustling businesses downtown. Police say at one point, they staged a sit-in.

Hundreds march for peace in Downtown Greenville
Hundreds march for peace in Downtown Greenville

“We want them to be able to express themselves, their sympathies and concerns and ultimately to produce a conversation,” Chief Miller continued.

Police were with the Black Lives Matter protesters all night as they moved through the streets of downtown Greenville for hours. Chief Miller says like the rest of the nation, their department is saddened over the deadly officer-involved shootings this week.

“It is no surprise they embraced the opportunity to be with the people who were hurting over the horrible episodes from this past week,” said Mayor Knox White on why police wanted to help direct traffic around protesters.

The NAACP said in the joint conference Sunday they were with police at the beginning of the then peaceful rallies to monitor the officers interactions.  While they didn’t see how the night progressed, they didn’t agree with how it ended. They want people’s voices to be heard but without violence.

“We saw compassion and tolerance. We saw the exercise of restraint,” said Bishop Sam Zimmerman about the officers.

“When the two black men were killed, I cried. When the 5 police officers were killed, I cried. We are not at a place where we need to be on separate sides of the fence,” Reverend Ron Barton added. “We need to all work together to make these things happen that need to happen in our community.”

“Greenville is a great place of opportunity,” Mayor Knox explained. “It is a beautiful community that comes together quickly when things happen that hurt us all.”

Some of the protesters tell us they are planning another rally downtown Greenville around 6:30 Monday night. Police say they are monitoring and trying to keep an eye on any future gatherings.

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