Dallas Mayor, Police Chief Call for Peaceful Protests After Destructive Night

Protesters vandalized squad cars, smashed storefronts and damaged numerous businesses and buildings

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Cleanup began in downtown Dallas and Deep Ellum as the sun rose Saturday morning following a night of protests.

People are were out with shovels and brooms sweeping up glass and debris and boarding up windows. Nearly every business along Main Street in downtown Dallas had some sort of damage.

The protest was organized by the Next Generation Action Network in the aftermath of the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn. on Memorial Day and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, in March.

Derek Chauvin, the white officer who held his knee for nearly nine minutes on Floyd's neck while he was handcuffed, was charged Friday morning with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The Next Generation Action Network gathered Friday night at Dallas Police Headquarters before marching through downtown, at times clashing with police.

Protesters vandalized squad cars, looted businesses, smashed storefronts and damaged numerous buildings, including the George Allen Courts Building and Earle Cabell Federal Building, leaving behind broken glass and heartache for some business owners.

Photos: Cleanup Begins in Downtown Dallas, Deep Ellum After Protests Over George Floyd’s Death

Katherine Clapner, the owner of Dude, Sweet Chocolate, said employees were huddled in a corner of the Main Street store as rocks shattered the outer layer of her window.

The store's downtown location opened in November and was closed temporarily because of the coronavirus. It had been open for four days before protesters damaged the business, Clapner said.

“People have a right to be mad. I get it. It’s horrific what’s been happening in this country. It is absolutely horrific that these things are still happening," she said. "But this doesn’t solve it. It doesn’t fix the problem. It just buries people that work really hard."

The protest began about 6:30 p.m. as a peaceful rally of about 350 people outside Dallas police headquarters. The crowd size grew to about 500 as the group began marching toward downtown at 8:38 p.m., according to Dallas police.

At some point, the crowd divided into separate groups and about 200 people walked onto Interstate 35E near Reunion Boulevard at 9:35 p.m. The Dallas County Sheriff's Department escorted the group off the highway, police said.

Police said a Dallas officer and a Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer had minor injuries from flying debris. A police horse was also injured. Its condition was not available.

Dallas Fire-Rescue sent units to 17 calls related to the protest overnight. Of those, three people were transported to local hospitals. Injuries ranged from those associated with falls to aggravated assaults and medical issues, officials said.

Police said arrests were made primarily for disorderly conduct and outstanding warrants, but additional details were not immediately available.

At a news conference Saturday ahead of a 1:45 p.m. protest planned to take place outside City Hall, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said there had been a peaceful demonstration Friday that reflected the city the knows and "reckless behavior from a small group whose agendas has nothing to do with human rights or civil rights."

Looters and vandals attacked storefronts, windows and police vehicles in downtown Dallas overnight following largely peaceful protests over the Minnesota police killing of George Floyd.

"They exploited a collective cry for help for their own personal gain by looting. They chose to destroy things at a time when we should be building each other up," Johnson said. "And we just can't allow that. Not in Dallas. We cannot allow people to destroy the livelihoods of others or threaten the safety of the very same people we are asking to protect us in our time of need."

Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall said the department supports and stands with people who protest against police brutality, but that the department will not tolerate "tearing up our communities."

"What we saw in Minneapolis by men who wear same uniform that I wear is unacceptable," she said. "There's no excuse. It was murder and it's intolerable, but what I will say is it's not representative of every police officer in this country."

On Main Street in Deep Ellum, video sent to NBC5 showed the front windows of Sneaker Politics and the Point Skate shop broken out and people running out with items.

When Reese Rodriguez saw the video and the damage left behind, she took action.

“I was up here at 7:30 am just going door to door wherever I saw glass and debris,” Rodriguez said.

Looters and vandals attacked storefronts, windows and police vehicles in downtown Dallas overnight following largely peaceful protests over the Minnesota police killing of George Floyd.

She said the peaceful protest's message was drowned out by shouts and destruction from those who broke off from the main marchers.

“It’s really disheartening, because I live and work here," she said. "I have two of my jobs here. My fun job and then my real job. This is the heart of me."

She says if there are more protests she will continue to clean up.

“If you want change, be the change. Be positive. Come together,” Rodriguez said.

Video sent to NBC 5 by Kindall Tucker shows the front windows of “Sneaker Politics” and “The Point Skate Shop” busted out, and people running out of the businesses with items. Both businesses are located on Main Street in the Deep Ellum neighborhood.
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