LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Police said 80 protesters were arrested and 12 Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers were injured in the march for George Floyd on the Las Vegas Strip on Friday.
The protest was in response to the in-custody death of Floyd. One of the Minneapolis officers involved, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter in his death. Video of Chauvin holding Floyd down with his knee pressed into the back of his neck created national outrage and kicked off widespread protests across the U.S. into the weekend.
According to booking logs, a majority of the protesters were charged with failure to disperse. The arrests included Las Vegas Review-Journal photojournalist Ellen Schmidt and photojournalist Bridget Bennett, who has freelanced for The New York Times, Washington Post and others.
"In an already tumultuous time for our city and country, it's upsetting to have the right to document public events threatened by police," Schmidt said. "I hope this brings light to the importance of press freedom and then returns to the story I was reporting on."
The Review-Journal's executive editor, Glenn Cook, called the arrest "appalling." He said both photojournalists posed no threat to law enforcement of public safety.
"They never should have been touched, let alone arrested and then booked into jail," he said in a statement to FOX5.
Las Vegas police said property was also damaged in the protest, which they called violent.
“The officers and everyone at the LVMPD sees this situation with great empathy. While we understand people are hurting, we are here to see that more people aren’t hurt in clashes,” said Sheriff Joe Lombardo in a press release. “It does not serve the memory of a man to destroy, loot, and hurt others in his honor. It does honor him by standing up for what is right. And in that case, the LVMPD will stand with its citizens as they exercise their freedom to speak out.”
Police said about 200 to 300 gathered by the Miracle Mile shops near Las Vegas and Tropicana boulevards on Friday afternoon. The march began to wind down in the evening "until a group of agitators arrived to ratchet up tensions," police said.
"Dispersal orders are given when a crowd has become unruly or unsafe for citizens. It is meant to protect people from harm. Officers issued several orders for the crowd to disperse. Citizens who refused to comply with those orders were arrested," police said.
Police said rocks were thrown at officers, hitting and injuring several of them. They said property damage happened as "small groups splintered off from the large crowd."
The conditions of the officers injured wasn't immediately known.
On Saturday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, along with Attorney General Aaron Ford and Nevada State Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, released a joint statement:
George Floyd was killed by a despicable and loathsome Minneapolis police officer. He and the other officers who watched, and didn’t come to Mr. Floyd’s aid, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Of that, we have no doubt.
Here in Nevada, while racial, social, and cultural divides still exist, we have made significant strides in confronting these schisms. In the past 20 years, community, law enforcement, and government leaders have been working together in efforts to address the issues that divide us and the tragic consequences of bigotry.
In just the past few years, Nevadans have elected the first African American Supreme Court Justice, Speaker of the Assembly, Attorney General, Congressman and the first Latina to the United States Senate. Despite those proud accomplishments there is so much more we must do to ensure social justice, equal opportunity, better education, and the overall eradication of all forms of racism in our communities and our State.
To the protesters...we hear you and we are listening, and more importantly, we invite you to be part of a constructive solution, and the healing our community desperately needs. We respect and defend your right to protest, but please express yourselves peacefully.
And, be assured we will not rest until everyone in our community feels safe and respected.
Las Vegas police said they anticipated more protests on Saturday and urged those participating to keep it peaceful.