I Cant Breathe Justice For George Floyd Rally

Creator: Anon | Date: May 30, 2020
Collection: Spring 2020 Uprising
We arrived right around 2pm at the free stamp. There were multiple groups of people with speakers. At one, a man yelled out “all lives matter.” It’s feels tense for a second, people chant “black lives matter” in return and things move along without issue. We check out another hub of speakers that we can’t hear very well and soon the march began. We marched to the main entrance of the justice center and weaved our way to the main organizers, who were conducting speeches. Some people nearby began pounding on the windows of the justice center. The BLM organizers urged them to stop, to not participate, and began marching away to public square.

At public square we listened to more speakers. A couple people in, they moved locations again. I’m unsure what prompted this. We wondered around public square for a bit. Marching began again heading to the justice center. Barely any police around - singular moto cops at street corners where theres traffic going through. Lots of fists in the air coming out of the passing car windows, smiles, and happy honking. Things were like this for a couple hours. Then the crowd seemed to thin out and there begins to be rumors of pepper spray being deployed at the justice center.

Getting closer, you can see smoke, people are warning the on comers that if we continue walking, we will be walking into pepper spray. Warnings to cover your eyes, people giving out water and masks. There’s blotches from where people were using milk to flush out their eyes marking the street. Eyes are starting to burn and you can smell the pepper spray in the air as we continue to walk closer.

We get in front of the main entrance of the building, but far across the street, back up on the hill. We can see dark smoke coming up from somewhere. We can tell somethings on fire. There’s a wall of police lined up in front of the building and protesters facing them. A man near us throws a water bottle and it hits an officer’s riot shield. A few minutes later we have to go running farther up the street. A pepper spray bomb goes off near where we had just been standing.

We make our way across to the west side of the building. We realize the fire is stemming from a police car. There’s two cars on fire. The fire is creeping up a pole. There’s some little verbal riff behind us involving a news crew that settles pretty quickly. We watch more smoke bombs and peppery spray being deployed. Water bottles thrown. Protestors throwing back the smoke bombs that were thrown at them by police. We remain fairly distant throughout this. We at certain times put more space between us and the main area as things ebb and flow. We had to run back a couple times to avoid pepper spray bombs that look as if they’re going to hit a little too close to us. We watch riot cops be deployed. We watch a team of riot police dropped off behind the protestors. They march forward. Soon they start running. The protestors backs are toward this team of riot police. Nothing violent was going on as far as I could see. I can’t continue watching.

The corner of the building where the police cars are on fire - things begin to calm there. The windows of the justice center are broken and graffiti is being spray painted on the walls. We walk through that intersection alongside the building. We’re kind of walking/lingering around this side of the building. There’s others around us but it’s not too crowded. We begin hearing banging from the walls above us. The inmates are pounding from up inside the building. This continues for a few minutes. We then make our way around the corner to another side of the building. There’s a nook with a bunch of officers in riot gear but not a lot going on. By the side doors there’s a line of officers also in riot gear. A handful of people standing a few yards away from them with signs. Something catches our attention back by the nook. A man is getting arrested. We watch him inbetween the cops guarding the building. They have him up against a dumpster. A couple men in regular clothes and bandanas over their face are taking notes, along with a uniformed officer speaking to the protester. Undercover police? Legal observers?

We see a young man run up to a group of officers near us. He seems frantic. The officer is shaking his head. He runs over to us. Someone is hurt. There’s a lot of blood. He needs help. No ones coming. He said the officers told him fire and ems were back down the street, to go to them. This man tell us that ems wasn’t there and he told the officers that and they’re not doing anything.

Where these officers we’re talking about was across the street, across a sea of protestors, across a battle ground of smoke bombs, past the police cars that were on fire. Firefighters were stationed there. We spent a lot of time near them. EMS was not there.

We walk a little closer to the injured man. We’re told he was hit in the eye with a rubber bullet. That his eye is dislodged. We go back to the officers stationed on the side of justice center, where things are calm. I ask one if she can radio for EMS. Someone’s really hurt back there. She looks back at me but doesn’t say anything.

We walk back to the injured man. There’s one EMS working with the man and a small circle of protestors trying to help. The Cleveland Safety Commissioner is there. He and the EMS worker stay until the ambulance comes. It feels like forever until it gets there. We walk back to the side entrance.

A woman is injured. We hear she was hit in the chest with a canister. A group walks her to a bench. They’re looking for supplies for her. A few officers come out from the main line of cops. One is in a white short sleeved shirt. They stay with the women and are attempting to help her. We watch a car get destroyed from a distance, up the street. Soon after, another is destroyed. A garbage can is lit on fire.

The officers begin to move the injured woman. There appears to be two injured women now. The officers take them by the wall of the justice center, past the line of cops. A woman runs after them, its the injured woman’s sister. The police use their shields to block her. My attention goes elsewhere. A couple minutes later I hear the white shirted officer stepped in so the sisters could be together. I look over and they are together.

Horse cops are brought outside this entrance while this is going on. I see an officer signal for them to go out to the street. No ones out in the street, although a small group is nearby on the side walk. I’m not sure exactly what takes place, but things get very tense. There’s a line of protestors facing a line of cops on the street now. More cops drive up/arrive in the area. Things begin to settle, unsure why. The horse cops start to retreat back to the justice center. A couple horse cops loose control of their horses. One hits a parked car with the horse. A protestor yells at the officer. The officer calls her a stupid bitch.

A cop tells us to get out of the street. As we do I ask if EMS is coming to help the injured women. He says they can’t because of the protestors were blocking the street. No one was blocking the street prior to the horse cops being deployed out there and the additional cop cars pulling up. I never see an ambulance come. We start moving again and head to public square.

We see an empty store front get its windows smashed. We watch Rebol get their windows smashed. The riot police march to the restaurant and the group scatters. We see riot police block the entrance to tower city. No civilians are over there. We walk over and ask if we can take the rapid. They say no, it’s closed. We watch some more destruction. Many onlookers, few participants. We walk back over to tower city as now there is a different group of officers standing around the building, but not blocking it. They’re in regular uniform, not riot gear. They tell us the rapid is closed into downtown. That we can get on it at w 25th. We walk down the Detroit superior bridge. Traffic is blocked coming into downtown. Cops are driving the wrong way on w 25th alongside the curb. Most businesses are closed along w 25th. We make it to the rapid station. We make it home.
~ Super User, “I Cant Breathe Justice For George Floyd Rally,” A People's Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland, accessed June 26, 2022, https://archivingpoliceviolence.org/items/show/533.
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