CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Black Lives Matter Cleveland joins the “call for justice” to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
The organization invited the community to come to the Free Stamp at Williard Park at the intersection of E. 9th Street and Lakeside Avenue East on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. for a “peaceful” protest.
However, protests turned violent when two Cleveland Police cruisers were set on fire, the Justice Center was vandalized with graphic graffiti, objects were thrown at the Justice Center in an attempt to break windows, and officers were struck with those objects, according to police.
Police said protesters also threw objects at the mounted unit and police horses.
Civilian cars around the Justice Center have also been vandalized and set on fire.
The city of Cleveland Saturday evening issued a statement on social media.
WARNING: The following live stream may have explicit language.
Less than two hours into the protest, the Cleveland Divison of Police tweeted out that a group of protesters tried to break the windows of the Justice Center by throwing objects.
This tweet came just 10 minutes after Cleveland Police tweeted that the protests remained peaceful even as protesters moved into Public Square.
Cleveland Police have also shut down roads downtown as the groups expand out from Williard Park.
Police confirmed at 3:46 p.m. that several officers were reportedly struck by those thrown objects.
Protesters also vandalized the Justice Center by spray painting graffiti as crowds stormed the steps to the main entrance.
Police began using gas canisters to disperse the crowds around 3:50 p.m.
At 3:53p.m., Cleveland Police confirmed traffic is being shut down coming into downtown indefinitely.
At 4:35, Cleveland Police confirmed two cruisers were set on fire at West 3rd Street and Lakeside Avenue.
Smoke from the torched cruisers in the Cleveland skyline was visible from miles away.
At 6:20 p.m., Cleveland Police said protesters were throwing objects at their mounted unit and police horses.
Our 19 News crew on the scene said windows are broken by Euclid Avenue.
The Cleveland Division of Fire tweeted out that one of their firetrucks is now out of service after being struck with bottles and rocks while responding to a fire downtown.
ODOT has closed down at the request of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, including I-90 westbound at I-271, and SR 2 westbound in Willowick and at the Innerbelt Curve.
Detour for westbound traffic will be I-271 southbound to I-480 westbound.
Gov. DeWine has activated the Ohio National Guard at the request of the city of Cleveland, and the Cleveland Police.
Colossal Cupcakes in downtown Cleveland has been vandalized by protesters. A Twitter user uploaded a video of a person breaking in the window.
Stores on Euclid Avenue are also being broken into.
Heinen’s released a statement late Saturday night.
We want to let you know demonstrations have impacted our Downtown Cleveland store. The store closed at 4 p.m. today and all of our associates were able to return home safely. The store will remain closed until further notice. We will advise on the store reopening as soon as we are able to gather more information.
Heinen’s Grocery Store
@cledowntown posted a photo on Instagram just before 8 p.m. that a Heinen’s window had been busted out.
This video of protestors looting Geiger’s on Euclid Avenue, right next to Heinen’s, was posted on Twitter.
The protests are now causing downtown businesses to close for the night, like Barley House.
Black Lives Matter Cleveland was distributing masks and hand sanitizer before the event to strictly adhere to CDC protocols.
“We are planning for a peaceful protest we do not condone nor will we engage in violence. But we are aware of how tense this situation can become and are encouraging attendees to remain peaceful,” Goldsby previously said. “Hopefully the police response with do the same.”
George Floyd was handcuffed, face down on the ground, moaning and crying that he can’t breathe as a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck.
A viral video of Floyd’s death has sparked frustration and anger nationally.
Four Minneapolis police officers were fired following Floyd’s death, and the mayor of that city called for the arresting officer to be criminally charged.