FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A night after a protest in downtown Fort Wayne escalated and turned violent and destructive, officials pledged to not allow another event take place.
Twenty-nine people were arrested, primarily for disorderly conduct, after a 5 p.m. peaceful protest spilled onto Clinton Street within 90 minutes and eventually took over the roadway. By 8 p.m., police in riot gear fired tear gas into the crowd, and by nightfall, windows of downtown business were shattered and property was vandalized.
Mayor Tom Henry, aggressive and emotion in a Saturday morning press conference, said “what we experienced last night is not Fort Wayne.” Henry said a number of the “agitators” were not from Fort Wayne or Allen County, and he said they were the reason a “peaceful demonstration got out of hand.”
WANE 15 has learned that of the 29 people arrested Friday evening, all but five were from Fort Wayne. The five out of towners were from Galien, Michigan; Niles, Michigan; Sweetster, Indiana; Mishawaka, Indiana and Fremont, Indiana.
“We will not condone what happened last night,” Henry said. “This will not happen again in our city.”
Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed said he recognized the reason for the protest, with emotions high after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“Last night is not the answer,” Reed said. “We will not let this happen again.
“Going forward we want peace in our city.”
Another protest has been scheduled for 2 p.m. in Downtown Fort Wayne. Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux asked the media to cover the event then leave, and not give the protesters the attention they crave.