BROCKTON, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The city of Brockton saw tensions rise at nightfall as demonstrators clashed with police following a peaceful protest earlier in the day. Mayor Robert Sullivan called it a "sad night for Brockton."
During the day, hundreds of protesters gathered for a peaceful protest a middle school in the city. Demonstrators were demanding an end to police brutality, sparked by the death of George Floyd.
“The country has been dealing with this issue for 400 to 500 years, and I feel like we’ve reached a fever pitch. And we want to be the people that say ‘Hey, that’s not what we stand for,'" protest organizer Jeff Gomes said.
Some police officers also joined the protest.
Police Chief Emanuel Gomes said that anybody "with any morality accepts what happened to Mr. Floyd."
He said that police officers "feel the pain and the anguish as well as regular citizens. We're not different. We feel the same pain; we're sickened by it. And we're not part of it."
Protest organizers pleaded for demonstrators to remain peaceful during the rally.
"I’m not asking for you to be peaceful. I’m saying anybody destroy anything in my city, you’re going to run into me," one organizer told the crowd.
Around nightfall, hundreds of protesters marched to the Brockton police station. Some protesters threw fireworks and rocks toward officers. Police deployed tear gas and pepper spray.
Mayor Sullivan told WBZ NewsRadio there were a handful of arrests, and some Brockton police officers sustained minor injuries.
"We started off on such a positive manor," Sullivan said. "Then, unfortunately, that beautiful gathering within our city of champions changed because a separate march started to march to the police station. It became rather tense and violent."
Some businesses in the city were also damaged, including a Dunkin' on Montello Street that saw its windows smashed. Mayor Sullivan said he will reach out to all of the business owners impacted.
Sullivan said that "when people choose violence and vandalism, it's not really a catalyst for change. It doesn't help the effort, it truly hampers the effort."
WBZ NewsRadio's Suzanne Sausville (@wbzSausville) reports