OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Protesters say police used excessive force in the early parts of a Saturday night civil rights demonstration in Oklahoma City.
“My mama used to tell me, if you have an issue, you should solve it before it gets any bigger and that is what we are trying to do here,” said demonstrator Demetrius Pearson.
The 19-year-old says he drove from Clinton, Oklahoma, to be part of the George Floyd-inspired rally Saturday night. He says they were peacefully demonstrating at the intersection of N.W. 23rd and Classen when, according to him, police engaged the protesters.
“We was marching in a circle and the police pulled up and they all just came out and telling everybody to step back,” he said. “And I was trying to step back and then turned around, that’s when I was just grabbed and I was arrested,” said Pearson.
“The police acted outrageously and engaged us violently,” said Jess Eddy. The protester helped organize the rally at 23rd. He claims police didn’t need to use any force at all.
“Police violently engaged us and ran at us with their batons, screaming and tackling people who were standing their ground, and speaking their truths, and speaking against the violence that they were inflicting upon us,” said Eddy.
News 4 went back and reviewed the footage. About 40 seconds after OKC police pull up at the intersection, an officer comes face to face with a protester. And within moments, a scuffle occurs with demonstrators.
“Officers became involved relatively quickly because it became dangerous when cars were driving through the intersection and people were out in the intersection. Once we had removed the main agitators from it, we backed off to let the demonstrators go ahead and march around the intersection, marching down the road,” said MSgt. Gary Knight of the OKC Police Department.
Eddy and Pearson were among some the first arrests Saturday. Both of them were being booked into the county jail when that protest moved downtown.
“I believe that those people that were out there vandalizing the property, they could have handled themselves better just like the police. Hold them accountable just like we should hold them,’ said Pearson.
“We don’t want this to happen again. I don’t think there is anyone that wants that to happen to that level again,” said Eddy.