Multiple city officials in Springfield, Ore. are refusing to answer questions about a violent clash between police and protesters which was caught on camera Wednesday night. Videos of the incident suggest the police made the first move toward protesters. The incident escalated to the point where a Black protester was dragged by the police and punched at least once in the head.
It all started with a racial justice march at the Jesse Maine Memorial Park. The demonstration’s progress was uninterrupted for roughly 30 minutes until the police set up a barricade — which ultimately became the scene of the altercation.
According to The Register-Guard, another 30 minutes went by before police made the first move and started forcibly detaining people.
After that, Springfield Police Department (SPD) officers and protesters were reportedly “wrestling at the barricade line,” according to local ABC affiliate KEZI.
Eugene, Oregon’s local NPR affiliate, KLCC, appeared to place the cause of the violence at the protest on the police. Per that report:
The protest started out peaceful, with some counter protesters showing up yelling epithets at Black Unity activists. Protesters were marching through a neighborhood when they were faced with a police barricade.
The Springfield police stand-off with Black Unity quickly escalated with police hitting protesters with batons, and tasing them while on the ground. Protesters clamored together to pull each other away from police.
“Let me make this CLEAR Black Unity was holding a peaceful protest when SPD suddenly declared it a riot and started attacking everyone,” one of the protesters said on Facebook after the incident.
“We want justice for what Springfield Police Department did tonight in Thurston,” another protester said on Facebook. “They brutally attacked and targeted Black Unity leadership. We need to make it clear that this can not happen again. Take to the streets and duck the police, NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE!”
Protesters also shared images showing two members of Black Unity who suffered injuries.
According to KEZI, three members of the Eugene-based Civil Rights collective were arrested.
In the featured video above, a white police officer can be seen attempting to wrest Black Unity‘s Tyshawn Ford, who is Black, away from the crowd. According to the protesters, a white female medic apparently attempted to intervene, and SPD officers proceeded to drag her out of and away from the crowd as well.
It is unclear from the video why the police attempted to arrest or detain Ford. Once the officers have Ford on the ground, he struggles a bit to break free, but is quickly subdued by several white officers–one of whom appears to punch him. Another SPD officer can be seen pulling Ford across the pavement by his leg. Then, when Ford is being held down, an SPD officer clearly punches Ford in the side or back of the head.
Amidst the escalating and melee-like altercation, protesters can be heard calling the police “animals” and “pigs.”
“Black Unity members need to call the SPD and Demand a medical evaluation for [Ford] immediately,” a post by another of the protesters read. “He was punched full force in his temple and they told me ‘medics’ will evaluate him. He needs a full medical evaluation by a physician, probably a head T, and I registered a complaint about the assault. Please do the same. Please demand he be taken to the ER immediately. I am an RN and what I witnessed needs a full head injury evaluation IMMEDIATELY.”
A pro-police counter-protester was also caught on video attacking a member of the group. She was subsequently charged with fourth degree assault.
On Wednesday, the Eugene Police Department raided Ford’s house with guns drawn–handcuffing one of Ford’s friends before admitting their mistaken arrest and letting him go.
The Springfield City Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the matter to Law&Crime.
Springfield Public Information Officer Amber Fossen declined to comment on the violence as well–telling Law&Crime the city has no statement about the incident.
Law&Crime also repeatedly reached out to the SPD, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication. This section will be updated if and when such a reply is received.
[image via screengrab/Tre Stewart]
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