Black Lives Matter protesters return to the streets, condemn Dallas violence

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CNN— Protesters across the nation marched, engaging in confrontations in some spots but mostly peacefully elsewhere, decrying police brutality over the killing of two African-American men this week.

They wept, held signs and chanted, "black lives matter."

Tensions ran high between police and protesters in some cities, resulting in dozens of arrests in upstate New York, a handful of reported arrests elsewhere and scattered scuffles. The Friday protests came a day after a sniper killed five police officers during a demonstration in Dallas.

Crowds gathered for an interfaith prayer vigil in Dallas to honor the fallen officers, CNN affiliate KTRK reported.

Black Lives Matter condemned the violence in the Dallas attack, calling it a tragedy not just for those affected but the nation as well.

"Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it. Yesterday's attack was the result of the actions of a lone gunman," the group said in a statement on its website. "To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible. We continue our efforts to bring about a better world for all of us."

Friday's anti-police brutality demonstrations were held in several cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Detroit, New Orleans, Nashville, Phoenix, San Francisco and New York.

The protests erupted this week after videos surfaced showing fatal police encounters with two African-American men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, in Louisiana and Minnesota, respectively. Their deaths -- along with those of several African-Americans before them -- spurred anger and debate over the police use of force and questions over racial profiling.

New York

Protesters in Rochester, New York, sat in the street chanting "black lives, black lives." Some protesters stood in front of police who were clad in riot gear.

Video from CNN's affiliate in Rochester showed officers attempting to move protesters farther back as screams and arguments ensued. The protests resulted in approximately 74 arrests for disorderly conduct and two charges of resisting arrest, said Rochester police Chief Michael Ciminelli in a news conference. No one was injured, he added.


In Phoenix, confrontations broke out between protesters and police.

During the protest, police sought to block the crowd from marching onto the freeway by forming a human shield, according to a statement from the Phoenix Police Department.

It led to a tense standoff between police and protesters as several stood directly in front of the officers raising both hands in the "Don't shoot" gesture, as shown in affiliate video.

Police deployed pepper balls to "move advancing demonstrators back."

Affiliate video showed several protesters affected by the pepper spray covering their eyes and faces, sprawled on the ground in pain.

Protesters appeared to retaliate by screaming expletives and hurling rocks and other objects at the police. Three people were arrested for throwing rocks, police said. Six in Phoenix were reported injured due to falls or exposure to the pepper balls. No officers were injured, according to the city's police.

As it neared midnight, the Phoenix crowd had mostly splintered off and a police helicopter hovered overhead, warning them to go home.


In Baton Rouge, where Alton Sterling was fatally shot Tuesday, protesters marched near police headquarters.

About 300 protesters faced officers in riot gear under heightened tensions. Community leaders and local officials tried to calm down the crowd by forming a line between police and protesters. Tempers flared when several protesters hurled plastic bottles of water and cups of ice at police.

Most demonstrators dispersed later in the evening only after police agreed to pull away cops in riot gear and rifles.


In San Francisco, people rallied at the waterfront, holding signs that read: "Stop racist police terror in the U.S." They marched down a major street, closely watched by police officers, yelling: "If we don't get no justice, we don't get no peace."

Protesters in Oakland had blocked a highway early Friday morning, stopping traffic on both sides.


In Atlanta, a crowd of about 2,000 people blocked a downtown interstate ramp during a march organized by the NAACP.

The protest resulted in two arrests by Georgia State Patrol, according to Atlanta Police spokeswoman Elizabeth Espy.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who attended the march, told CNN's Don Lemon that peaceful protesters in the city are practicing their First Amendment right.

Young black people today have higher expectations, which is a sign of progress, he said.

"One of the things that is exciting about this protest tonight: Our young people have an expectation that they will be treated fairly and justly ... Every generation makes their demands."

"Their tolerance level is much different to perhaps my parents' generation or their parents generation." he added.

Reed said that while his father instructed him to go out of his way to be deferential and compliant in any encounters with police, "this generation has a different expectation."

"My dad grilled into me the lesson of driving a vehicle as as black man. Keep your hands on the steering wheel. Look forward and say, 'yes sir' or 'ma'am' to the police officer. Place your wallet in the seat beside you. Ask for permission to do anything because he was concerned about me living. He just wanted me to get home safe."

Reed said in 2015, Atlanta law enforcement officers fired their weapons less than 10 times in 1.6 million interactions.

"We have to respect the 99.9% of law enforcement officials who do good everyday but we have to act decisively when individuals in the law enforcement community do wrong," Reed said.