OKC riots, protest

Rioters break in Sunday and begin to loot Valir Health on Northwest Sixth Street in Oklahoma City.

OKLAHOMA CITY — A day of peaceful protests in Oklahoma City turned violent Sunday night after protesters started looting, throwing eggs at police and launching fireworks.

It marked the second night of riots in downtown Oklahoma City despite a new curfew put in place by the city’s mayor in an effort to deter violence. Law enforcement officials said they were bracing for a third round of violent protests downtown Monday night.

Mayor David Holt said he issued a three-block wide curfew with 20 minutes notice at the request of the Oklahoma City Police chief and city manager. Holt said it was necessary to ensure public safety overnight amid continued protests over the death George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

“There are very important issues that we as a city and a nation should confront, and all daytime protests this weekend raising these issues have been peaceful,” Holt said as he announced the curfew. “However, we learned last night that things can change after dark. After 9 p.m. (Sunday), and after a very healthy dialogue between police and protestors the last few hours outside our police headquarters, protestors began launching fireworks and objects at police officers who were merely standing outside the headquarters."

In all, 11 people were arrested Sunday — many for violating the curfew, according to records provided by Oklahoma City police.  

“Announcing a curfew with 20 minutes notice is bull****,” said Ryan Kiesel, who serves as executive director of the ACLU, on Twitter. “More importantly it doesn’t satisfy the notice requirement of due process. Demilitarizing the police would do more for order than subjecting OKC residents to arbitrary arrest." 

The Oklahoma City Police headquarters, where the bulk of the rioting happened Saturday night, was well-fortified and the rioters were not able to break through a line of police blocking the station.

With the police station off limits, the rioters shifted their attention to Sixth Street and Shartel Avenue. 

Around 10:45 p.m., rioters fired what sounded like four gunshots into the sky. Around the same time, the Valir Health building on the corner of Sixth Street and Shartel Avenue was broken into and looted. The looters took office supplies and miscellaneous items. 

Once the looting began, police presence became heavy on that block. Police began firing nonlethal rubber bullets in the direction of those standing near Valir Health in an attempt to disperse them.

Simultaneously, on the other side of the street, in the Ken Boyer Bail Bonds’ parking lot, three rioters were chased by two police officers. One was later caught and arrested.

Around midnight, the Oklahoma City Police Department formed a fortifying line in front of the Ken Boyer building. Rioters were standing about 25 feet away from them with their hands up in the air chanting, “hands up … don’t shoot,” “Say his name … George Floyd” and “No justice … No Peace.” They also yelled obscenities at the police.

After about 15 minutes, the police fell back and were replaced by Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers in the same fortifying line formation.

The chanting and obscenities continued for about 15 minutes, after which the state troopers started to fall back as well. As they were falling back, rioters camped out across Sixth Street made their way across chanting more obscenities.  

As the troopers were falling back, a rioter threw eggs at the troopers who swiftly responded with tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and flash bangs. Rioters quickly dispersed, hopping into cars and running eastbound on Sixth Street away from the troopers.

After the crowds were dispersed, the troopers began to push east on Sixth Street and build another fortifying line at the intersection of Sixth Street and Dewey Avenue.

Reese Gorman

Follow me @reeseg_3

reese.gorman@outlook.com

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