LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The protests and demonstrations over the death of George Floyd carry different messages. While some are peaceful and are calling for change, others are destructive and separate from the main message.
On Sunday, nearly 300 people marched peacefully on the Strip against police brutality and injustice. But by nightfall, things changed when Metro officers had to use tear gas to disperse crowds on Las Vegas Boulevard near Mandalay Bay.
8 News Now reporters caught up with protesters who said their message was “unity” and that they wanted to avoid a violent end.
“I think that it’s incumbent on us to dispel the myth that people who protest are naturally violent or somehow disruptive,” said protester Jonathan MacArthur. “There is an incredibly unifying them here today. We have people of all races and all ages.”
Sunday’s protest stopped for several minutes in front of the Bellagio Fountains. Protesters took a knee and kept silent, with fists raised in the air.
There were also protests in Downtown Summerlin. Businesses closed early, and as many as 150 people gathered. But there were no reports of serious vandalism or injuries, and police said the group never tried to enter the shopping mall.
Local police and protesters also clashed Friday and Saturday nights.
The biggest protest started late Saturday at the downtown Container Park, as some 2,000 people marched to the Clark County Detention Center and back.
After about three hours, Metro Police tried to disperse the crowds. When some protesters did not comply, police used a projectile containing an irritant.
Eleven officers were hurt, and 105 people were arrested.
We spoke to community organizer Elgin Simpson, born and raised in Las Vegas. He was president of Community Peace, an organization set up to keep peace after the Rodney King incident. He said things have improved since then but that more can be done.
“One of the things I helped work with Metro over the years is community policing,” explained Simpson, “had Metro talk to community, talk to the people, get out of their cars and meet with residents in the community where they work.”