Creator: Steve Thomas McCarthy III | Date: Re: May 30
Collection: Spring 2020 Uprising
My name is Steven Thomas McCarthy III, I was in downtown Cleveland, Ohio on May 30th from about 1PM to about 6PM. I'm not sure what time, but the organized protest itself that I was a part of had moved from its original meeting point in the Free Stamp park to the front steps of the Justice Center. The police had the front steps surrounded, essentially forming a U shape that started on one side of the front doors, down the steps and across the bottom of the steps and then back up the steps on the other side to disallow people to be on the steps or near the doorways. I was standing East of the steps (left side of the steps if looking from the street, the right side of the steps if looking from the doorways of the Justice Center). I had originally been on the street but moved up to the grass just past the sidewalk on the east side of the steps after noticing police officers using pepper spray, detonating flash-bang grenades, tear gas grenades launched by hand or fired by 40mm grenade launchers, as well as rubber bullets being fired by 40mm grenade launchers directed at peaceful and nonviolent United States citizens. When I moved up, I asked the officer closest to me why they were shooting us and his reply was "because things are getting out of hand" and I asked him "who's hands? The police or the people?". As I stood there occasionally engaging in conversation with the officer, there was another person next to me that had a sign that they were trying to get the police officers to read. They repeatedly asked officers if the officers could read and if the officers would read their sign, as well as explaining to the officers that they have worked in downtown Cleveland for many years. Other people further up the grass/closer to the entrance on the east side have been getting pepper sprayed as well as having flash-bang grenades tossed at them for no discernible reason other than standing on grass. When the person next to me holding a sign saw these people get pepper sprayed they began asking the officers (paraphrased) "why are you pepper spraying them [the other people] and not me? What have they done?" all while still remaining at the same spot we had both been standing, not being told or commanded by an officer to move, and only wielding a paper sign. At least one police officer then pepper sprayed them in the face, some of which got onto my face as well. That person who was sprayed I believe then went to the other side of the street away from the Justice Center at that point. I continued to stand there for a bit until I went to leave, at which point I gave a water bottle to another person who had been pepper sprayed in the face and eyes for no discernible reason.

Honestly, I believe the police officer pepper sprayed that person (blonde hair, white skin, no taller than 5'10 and appeared to be female) only because the officers were not able to explain to them why they had pepper sprayed other people.

I did not perceive that person's (who was next to me) actions to be threatening in any way, I did not perceive their presence on the grass as an immediate threat, that person's sign did not express intent to commit crime or commit bodily harm, that person was not armed or dangerous by legal definitions in my recollection of events, the police officers had not commanded any of us to follow any lawful order, but that person was still pepper sprayed as well as many others.
~ Super User, “[Untitled],” A People's Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland, accessed June 26, 2022, https://archivingpoliceviolence.org/items/show/532.
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