Policing Protests Marked by Shootings, Armed Threats


Shootings at police brutality protests in Louisville and Seattle over the weekend that were met by people in the crowds returning fire were caught on video and circulated on social media, the Wall Street Journal reports. Armed people at large protests can make the events “ripe for an explosion of violence,” said former Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis. In Louisville, a man opened fire from the edge of a protest area in a park Saturday night, and a 27-year-old photographer was killed. Some bystanders fired back, injuring the shooter. People bring guns illegally and legally to public events. The danger for police is that it is hard to tell the “good guys from the bad guys,” said Davis. “Nobody knows who’s a right-wing extremist, who’s a left-wing extremist, who might have pulled the trigger,” he said.

In the past month, at least seven people with ties to Boogaloo, the far-right extremist group,  have been arrested for attempting or carrying out violence at protests. Often armed, these men and women have gathered on the fringes of gatherings and marches in states including Texas, Georgia and Pennsylvania. A video on Twitter viewed more than 14 million times showed a white couple standing outside a house Sunday pointing guns at protesters in St. Louis as a group marched toward the mayor’s home to demand her resignation. In Seattle, at the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, there was a shooting melee in the predawn hours Monday that ended with a 16-year-old boy dead and a 14-year-old boy critically wounded. Over the past two weeks, there have been at least four shootings in or near the zone. “This is not safe for anyone. Multiple cases of murder, it’s not right. This is not an acceptable situation,” said Police Chief Carmen Best.