RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – More than half of the people arrested during protests in downtown Raleigh Thursday are charged with false imprisonment.
A Raleigh Police Department spokesperson says of the 20 individuals arrested Thursday, 11 were charged with false imprisonment and impeding the flow of traffic. Protesters blocked traffic and surrounded cars on Capitol Blvd and outside the Executive Mansion.
“This was not peaceful protest. I was very clear that what I was dealing with were violent people. They made it very clear they were looking for attention and looking to escalate,” said Deborrah Newton.
Newton, a federal criminal defense attorney in Raleigh, was on her way home from running errands when she was stopped by the group on Blount Street.
Newton, 59, said she saw about 10 Raleigh police officers in a nearby parking lot, so she got out of her car to ask them to help her and another person around the protesters.
“I said ‘Would you please come back with me and escort us away from this?’ That’s all I asked, and the answer was no,” Newton said.
When another officer told her they “had their hands full,” she saw a group of protesters climbing onto a marked RPD SUV with officers inside.
Newton said she went back to her car and tried to drive around the protesters, but one jumped onto her hood.
“I was panicked. I didn’t want it to go any further and I wanted to get out of there. I had a right to get out of there,” she said.
Newton got out of her car and tried to pull the protester off her hood. She said she yelled at the protester, pulled his clothing, and grabbed his glasses.
“It was an all out street brawl at this point. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t get the guy off my hood,” Newton said.
Newton works near the Executive Mansion. She has taken her dogs for a walk several times during recent peaceful protests.
“I totally support peaceful protesters and they have a right to that. These weren’t those guys,” she said.
She feels the situation should not has escalated that way it did, and questions why police did not intervene sooner.
“If law enforcement aren’t doing their job, you are going to have people naturally defending themselves because they have no choice,” she said.
A Raleigh police spokesperson offered the following statement about why officers waited to stop protesters from jumping on cars:
“As these situations are fluid and protestors continue to change their strategies, RPD officers are constantly evaluating and responding as quickly as possible. While we want to assist with ensuring peaceful protests, our first priority is always the safety of our residents. Protestors who surround vehicles with drivers inside will be arrested and charged with False Imprisonment and Impeding the Flow of Traffic.”
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