Police Officers Injured, Dunkin' Set on Fire as Violence Erupts in Brockton

Violence erupted in Brockton Tuesday night as demonstrators shot fireworks at officers

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Businesses were damaged and police officers were injured as violence erupted in Brockton, Massachusetts, overnight.

"I'm really really troubled and I'm sad - I keep saying that word but it's true - I'm saddened because a lot of businesses were damaged last night," Mayor Robert Sullivan said. "It's not a reflection of what the city of Brockton or the community stands for."

"Today's a new day," Sullivan said at a press conference Wednesday. "We all woke up, we'll all be able to rebuild."

The cleanup is underway in Brockton, Massachusetts, after protesters and police clashed overnight. The city's mayor says what happened is not an accurate reflection of the community.

Demonstrators shot fireworks at officers, threw rocks and bottles Tuesday night, and police deployed pepper spray and tear gas to get the situation under control. Massachusetts State and the National Guard provided mutual aid on scene.

A state trooper and a couple of Brockton Police officers suffered minor injuries, according to the mayor, and a "handful" of arrests were made.

Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan participated in an initially peaceful protest over the death of George Floyd, before things turned violent overnight.

"The good news is there was not grave bodily injury to anybody, thank God," Sullivan said.

"We know change is coming, it needs to come. Silence needs to stop. Consent needs to stop," Sullivan said. "We just need to come together as a community. Right now, though, I can tell you we're hurting."

A peaceful protest was held earlier in the day with a march that started about two miles away from the police station, by the intersection of Centre Street and Commercial Street, where tensions came to a head around 8:30 p.m.

"I've seen a lot of bad, I've seen a lot of good," said Jeff Gomes of Brockton, who participated in the protest said Wednesday. "I don't want to take this as a message of violence. Brockton is unified. A select few people were there to have fun and spread the wrong message."

"It got a little crazy," he added. "Even though it got crazy, police did their job."

Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan participated in an initially peaceful protest over the death of George Floyd, before things turned violent overnight.

But another person who took part in the protests said he thought police went too far.

"In certain aspects, the police were looking for a reason to become excessive," said Lance Jackson of Randolph. "It doesn't make sense to throw a water bottle and in response they throw tear gas. I think that starts to build tension and aggression. A water bottle gets thrown is water, but don't throw tear gas at us... don't pepper spray."

Windows on the Brockton Courthouse were broken and a number of businesses were damaged, including a Dunkin' that was set on fire.

Dunkin' said in a statement that that no employees were hurt and that the store had closed early as a precaution to keep workers safe. The company added that the store had "plans to rebuild and reopen in the coming weeks to serve loyal guests.”

Owner Eric Eskander said he didn't think about boarding up the glass doors of the coffee chain location beforehand.

Fireworks exploded between police officers, who set off tear gas and pepper spray.

"You want to believe the best in people, which we did," Eskander said. "It's just unfortunate. This is no indication of the masses of people who are down here for the freedom of speech, to do the right thing and unfortunately a few random people decided to do something different."

Officials were unsure of the total cost of damages in Brockton.

Lori Watson of Brockton says she does not want the actions of a few people to take away from the subject of the protest against police brutality.

"It started out really, really sane. And there was a lull after, everything died down, everybody was going home, and then, all of the sudden, firecrackers started," said Lori Watson, who lives nearby.

Watson said she has first aid training and came down in case anyone needed help.

"I came down just to check, make sure that everything's OK, and I got accosted by two guys with firecrackers, who had no attachment to anything ... started yelling at me, and then they threw firecrackers, and they threw a rock at us as we're walking," Watson recalled. "There's no reason for this, and I guarantee you that they're not really either attached to the protest, or probably not even from here, for the simple fact that we don't do this. We are a solid community."

Outside the police station, firecrackers, rocks, bricks and glass bottles were thrown at officers, who set off tear gas in response. It was shortly after 8:30 when a large firework exploded in the middle of the group of officers.

Around 11 p.m., police appeared to chase after one or more people and put them in custody.

Fireworks and tear gas canisters were lobbed across a barricade between police and protesters Tuesday night in Brockton, Massachusetts.

One man was arrested and is facing several charges, including assaulting a Brockton police officer, according to the Plymouth County District Attorney's office.

Schmidreck Georges, 23, of Brockton, is facing assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (rocks), assault and battery on a police officer, failure to disperse from a riot, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.

Georges was scheduled to be arraigned on July 6, but the district attorney's office has filed a motion to advance the arraignment to June 11.

"I condemn the actions of Minnesota Police Officer Derek Chauvin and understand the outrage felt about the murder of George Floyd. If we are to honor his memory, it must be done with an open dialogue, listening and learning from one another, not by creating mayhem, setting fires and hurling rocks and bricks," Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz said in a statement.

Watson said she does not want the actions of a few people to take away from the sense of community in Brockton or the important message of the protesters.

"Generally, when push comes to shove, we bring it together. And that's what we did today," Watson said. "What's really important is the fact that we are all the same person, we are all equal, and we do not deserve to be treated as less than. That is not the way it is. Nobody who is a shade darker than anybody else should be treated less than that person."

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