A #BlackLiveMatter conference in Cleveland, Ohio erupted on Sunday evening when a Cleveland Regional Transit Authority police officer pepper sprayed protesters outside the Cleveland State University convention center. The officer and several others were reportedly trying to arrest a 14-year-old boy for suspected underage drinking and public intoxication.
Video of the white male officer’s use of pepper spray against a crowd of African-American conference attendees went viral soon after it was published online:
— Kenny (@KentaviousPrime) July 26, 2015
In a statement released by the Cleveland RTA, “officers on patrol peacefully removed a intoxicated 14-year old male from a bus” near the Cleveland State University campus. He was apparently “intoxicated to the point where he was unable to care for himself.” However, before the arresting officers could collect the relevant information, the #BlackLivesMatter conference crowd amassed around the area and tried to intervene:
The authorities were eventually able to remove the teenager from the scene. Meanwhile, his family and the surrounding crowd followed the arresting officers, chanting “We love you!” to the boy:
— #PennyRaps Dropped. (@RicWilson) July 26, 2015
— Mvmt 4 Black Lives (@mvmt4bl) July 26, 2015
Complex and other outlets acknowledged the Cleveland RTA’s statement, as well as local reporting from Cleveland.com and others on the scene. However, the website and many others on social media largely ignored its content and instead focused on the video of the pepper spraying incident, decrying it as another heinous act of police brutality.
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