Raleigh looks to use lessons learned while prepping for more protests

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Cities across the country are preparing for community responses when the verdict’s announced in the Derek Chauvin trial.

That includes Raleigh, which saw protests all weekend.

Sunday night’s protests ended in more than $11,000 in damages in downtown Raleigh and a dozen arrests.

“When people start throwing eggs at journalists and burning things and putting graffiti on buildings and smashing windows, we have to put our foot down,” said Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin.

The destruction took place just a block from Weaver Street Market.

“We certainly stand with people demonstrating the things they’ve been demonstrating,” said Micki McCarthy, the store manager. “I’m far less concerned over some shattered glass and far more concerned over the lives that are lost.”

The previous two nights of protests remained peaceful.

The City hopes any additional ones this week will, too.

“We encourage and we applaud people who come out and protest. We’ve had a protest for years every week in Raleigh,” said Baldwin.

She said the Raleigh Police Department is working with Capitol police and the state for a coordinated response to anything that arises.

“We’re praying for the best but having to prepare for the worst and I hate that so much, but this is a pivotal time in our history with our country,” said Baldwin.

She said they learned a lot from last summer’s protests, like not having all officers in full riot gear.

Raleigh police in downtown after tear gas was deployed following items being thrown at police in May 2020. (CBS 17)

Raleigh police evaluates after every demonstration.

“It’s about, you don’t want to make people feel scared, but you also don’t want them to feel like they’re not trusted, you don’t want to escalate the situation, so it is a very delicate balance, and I think that was one of the things we learned from the past summer,” said Baldwin.

The mayor stands by the heavy police presence at recent ones despite some criticism.

“There was graffiti, there were windows broken, there were flags burned, I mean, while people may have complained about the presence, obviously it was necessary,” said Baldwin. 

Businesses are now able to sign up for a text alert system for protests that pop up.

It’s part of a pilot program they’re doing downtown.

CBS 17 asked Raleigh police for an interview Monday and Tuesday about the past and potential future protests, but they said no one was available.

RPD sent this statement instead:

“As the capital of North Carolina, the City of Raleigh has a long and proud tradition of fostering and protecting the First Amendment rights of groups and individuals who come here.  The Raleigh Police Department consistently works with the members of the City Attorney’s Office on matters related to First Amendment protected activities.  Whenever any employees of the Raleigh Police Department have questions about how to enforce the City’s picketing ordinances, they consult with members of the City Attorney’s Office for guidance.  The Raleigh Police Department has and will continue to respect the First Amendment rights of all members of the community who engage in lawful and peaceful assembly activities.”

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