The Chief of the Dallas Police Department called for peace Tuesday following days of unrest and clashes between protesters and law enforcement across North Texas.
Chief Renee Hall's remarks come the morning after police officers confronted protesters marching across the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas -- the fourth day of protests in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Police estimated about 300 people attended the demonstration.
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Chief Hall said police initially planned to arrest demonstrators on the bridge, but later decided to release them.
Hall told reporters officers identified demonstrators and plan to charge them with a misdemeanor for obstructing a highway. Police said the cited demonstrators could expect a notice to appear in court in the mail.
Michael Adedire, 25 of Dallas, told NBC 5 he felt trapped on the bridge for two hours Monday night.
“I think they wanted us to go there and they wanted to trap us from both sides,” said Adedire.
Adedire joined a rally for racial justice on Monday evening at the Frank Crowley Courts building – just outside the Dallas curfew zone that was in place on Monday. The group hosted speakers and prayed together before marching along North Riverfront Blvd, up the westbound ramp to the bridge.
Law enforcement watched as demonstrators walked to the bridge. An officer on a bullhorn could be heard telling the protesters to keep walking, go to their cars and warned them not to approach officers.
The westbound ramp to the bridge did not appear to be blocked.
“The protestors were warned not to take bridge, they took the bridge, they were warned again to come off of the bridge or arrests would be made,” Chief Hall said on Tuesday.
Hall defended the police department’s approach.
“There are many who question and are not happy with the decisions that I made yesterday. Let me clear: I am not here to make people happy. My job and our job in law enforcement is to keep the city safe,” said Hall. “We have pledged that, we will do that and that is our goal.”
Hall said officers at the scene deployed smoke to prevent marchers from traveling all the way across the bridge. She said officers did not use tear gas. An NBC 5 reporter observed other less than lethal tactics deployed, including firing of foam or pepper balls.
DART buses that were brought to the scene to take demonstrators to jail were instead used to shuttle small groups back down the bridge.
“I feel like as long as we are in areas that don’t violate the curfew and nobody is doing anything ignorant, we should be able to be out there protesting which is what we were doing yesterday,” said Adedire.
Later Tuesday Hall is joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and Fort Worth leaders in announcing plans to address protest violence.