Chief: NOPD forced to fire tear gas into crowd as they rush officers on interstate

Updated: Jun. 4, 2020 at 12:03 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - For the sixth straight night hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd and police brutality.

The protesters started marching from Duncan Plaza on Wednesday. They marched on Saint Charles Ave., Magazine St. and to the Pontchartrain Expressway.

As they attempted to cross the Crescent City Connection. Police vehicles and officers in riot gear blocked the bridge and the marchers were stopped on the elevated portion of the interstate near the Tchoupitoulas St. exit.

New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said his officers had a dialogue with the protesters and he said they allowed one of them to use a police microphone to address the crowd and calm the situation.

Ferguson said that protester instead told the crowd they were not going to tell them to leave. Instead, the chief said the protesters told the men to come to the front and the women to the back with the intent of rushing past the NOPD officers. Ferguson said that is exactly what happened when tear gas was fired.

In another tweet, the NOPD says it is committed to respectful protection of residents’ first amendment rights but things escalated last night forcing them to use tear gas.

According to the NOPD’s rules and regulations, tear gas should be used by SWAT teams, “under highly specific circumstances such as riots and violent demonstrations when a common level decision had been made.”

This means the decision should have come from the command level at NOPD and should have only been used by SWAT or the special operations division.

The chief said after tear gas went into the crowd, about 200-300 people stayed on the scene. He said some protesters continued to push forward and five people were arrested for crossing a police line.

Ferguson said one person is from Belgium, one is from Massachusetts and the other three are from the New Orleans area. Another protest is planned for Thursday night.

Ferguson is concerned and he is calling for a peaceful protest.

“You can hear the crowd people are ready for change. They want change and they don’t want another black child or another black mother, another black father, aunt, uncle to lose their life because our constitution provides for the rule of law. That promise has not been provided to people in our community,” says Alan Odoms, Executive Director of ACLU Louisiana.

Witnesses shared tweets of the incident showing plumes of gas in the air.

Protesters started gathering on Wednesday near the Mercedes-Benz Superdome area around 6 p.m. The crowd marched down St. Charles and is currently near the Magazine Street area.

WATCH LIVE: Protestors continue to march in New Orleans *** WARNING: Profane language may follow. Viewer discretion is advised ****

Posted by WVUE FOX 8 News on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

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