RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A peaceful march quickly descended into a chaotic scene Saturday as crowds left a path of destruction in downtown Raleigh.
The Raleigh protest began at 5 p.m. in front of the Wake County Justice Center. Dozens of people had gathered by 4:35 p.m.
Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker joined the protesters at the justice center before the crowd marched up Fayetteville Street.
By 6 p.m., the protest in Raleigh had grown to more than 1,000.
By 6:45 p.m., protesters were tossing items at police who were huddled just inside the back entrance to the Wake County Justice Center building along McDowell Street.
Later, tear gas could be seen being deployed in the area.
“We want to protect your right to protest. Please keep it peaceful and refrain from throwing items at police,” Raleigh police said in a tweet just before 7 p.m.
Around 8:15 p.m., protesters surrounded a Raleigh police SUV and at least two people damaged the vehicle near the intersection of Edenton at Wilmington streets. Tear gas was then deployed and dozens of protesters scattered from the area.
About 20 minutes later tear gas was again deployed near the Enterprise Rent-A-Car near the corner of South McDowell Street at West Cabarrus Street.
Around 9 p.m. tear gas was deployed several times by police as items continued to be thrown at authorities.
Throughout the rest of the evening, police continued to deploy tear gas as they clashed with protesters.
Store fronts along Fayetteville and nearby streets were vandalized – leaving broken glass along the side walk and roadways.
There was looting reported at at least two stores, including a pharmacy.
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin tweeted before the scheduled protest asking that it remain peaceful and for those participating to wear a mask.
Organizers are calling the event A National Day of Action — Justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and lives cut short by Raleigh and Durham police departments.
Wake County closed their downtown buildings early Friday after hearing rumors of a protest taking place Friday night. However, there were no protests in Raleigh Friday evening.
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