A video has surfaced of a white Cleveland Transit Authority police officer pepper-spraying a group of black protesters attending the National Black Lives Matter Convention at Cleveland State University.
The incident occurred just after 5 p.m. Sunday as the conference was ending in downtown Cleveland, Cleveland’s ABC affiliate News Net 5 reports. Police officers held a 14-year-old boy named Jonathan Walsh in custody after receiving reports the minor was heavily intoxicated on a public bus.
The crowd was exiting the conference when they saw the police detaining the young boy. The crowd began chanting and approached the squad car holding the boy, according to News Net 5.
They linked arms, barricaded the officers and prevented the vehicle from driving away.
Authorities believed the boy was heavily intoxicated and needed immediate medical attention.
Police officers gave several warnings, asked the crowd to move, before pepper-spraying the crowd. A bystander recorded the incident on film. The crowd failed to disperse forcing authorities to remove the 14-year-old from the car. They transported the young boy on foot through the thick crowd to an EMS unit near the scene.
Repeatedly several people can be heard yelling, “What the fuck! Fuck you!” toward the officers.
The conference was labeled as the first ever national conference of Black Lives Matter protesters responding to multiple killings of black youth by police.
The young boy was released to his parents, but conference attendees are outraged at the local police.
Cleveland Transit Police are currently investigating the incident.
The transit authority described the situation in the following statement:
At 4:40 p.m., July 26, Transit Police officers on patrol peacefully removed a intoxicated 14-year old male from a bus. Police said the juvenile was intoxicated to the point where he was unable to care for himself.
Police escorted the youth from the bus to a bus shelter on Euclid Avenue at East 24th Street.
Transit Police followed normal procedure, which is — after police collect pertinent information, juveniles are transported to police headquarters to await release to a parent or legal guardian.
Within minutes, a large crowd had gathered. For the safety of the juvenile, Transit Police moved him from the open shelter area into a police cruiser. The crowd then surrounded the car, and attempted to remove the juvenile from the car. By this time, several other law enforcement agencies had also responded.
The crowd kept the police car from leaving the area. When it was obvious that the car could not move forward — 50-100 individuals were blocking the way and sitting in front of the car — police attempted to back up the car, where fewer persons had gathered.
Police tried to moved back the person who were behind the vehicle, but they were not cooperating. Then, a Transit Police officer used a general burst of pepper spray in an attempt to clear the way. This was ineffective, as additional persons filled in behind the car.
After EMS arrived on the scene, the crowd cooperated with the officers and moved aside, so the juvenile could be escorted from the police cruiser to the EMS unit to be examined.
At 5:47 p.m., the juvenile was released to the custody of his mother, who had arrived at the scene.
There were no arrests.
The incident is under investigation.
RTA will update this statement as more facts become available, and will release pertinent video.