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UPDATED: Police Spray State Delegate with Pepper Spray at Manassas Protest

| May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments | News

Del. Lee Carter reacts to a stinging spray in his eye at the May 30 protest on Sudley Road in Manassas, Prince William.

UPDATED: Sunday, May 31 at 2:22 a.m. 

Del. Lee Carter (D-50th Manassas) was sprayed with what was likely pepper spray, Saturday at 10:45 p.m., at the Prince William County Black Lives Matter-style protest on Sudley Road in Manassas.

While it may have began as a peaceful protest, over time the assembly attracted incidence of violence and unruly behavior. Police determined it an “unlawful protest,” and advised people to avoid the area.

In response to the violence, Virginia State Troopers arrived to assist the Prince William Police.

According to a live citizen video, Carter, who attended the protest, knelt in front of officers in riot gear. As they stood in a line, he began asking them questions, such as “Why are you here?” No one answered him.

Carter said they could answer him now or answer in front of the General Assembly. Carter then asked the reason they had “CS” or tear gas with them. He said he knew what it was because he is a Marine veteran.

“I heard them calling for CS,” he said. “I don’t know if you all think it’s a good idea for your agency to lie to a legislator.”

Officers started to disperse along Sudley Road, and Carter followed along to ask more questions. At that point, Carter fell back yelling and said that they used the CS on him. ‘They just CSed a member of the General Assembly!’ he cried.

A few people ran to help Carter up and they helped him wash his eyes out with milk that they poured from a carton.

Del. Lee Carter takes a knee in front of officers in riot gear, May 30, in Manassas.

Around 11:35 p.m., Corinne Geller, spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police said State Troopers used pepper spray and powder at the Manassas assembly. It is a man-made substance derived from hot peppers meant to sting the eyes.

“The protesters were given repeated verbal commands to disperse at that location, but have refused. In an effort to safely disperse the violent crowd, state police has utilized non-lethal tactics, such as OC ‘pepper’ spray and powder,” she said.

She said that at the time of the release CS gas (a carbon chemical compound) had not been used.

Approximately 100 Prince William Police and State Police officers in protective gear were present at the scene. There were a few officers more heavily outfitted.

Earlier live VDOT videos showed smoke in the crowd around 10 p.m.

In the video that primarily featured Carter, the protesters appeared to be peaceful, except for throwing plastic water bottles. Some used offensive language.

Prince William Police asked residents to avoid the area along Sudley Manor Road, saying it had evolved to a police action due to civil unrest. Many witnesses testify to objects being thrown: light objects like plastic water bottles, but also heavy objects such as large rocks and glass bottles. Two Virginia State Troopers were injured by people in the Manassas crowd according a statement.

Others said windows of businesses had been broken, and a VDOT video shows a small fire along the road.

Prince William Police reported just before 2 a.m., Sunday, that everyone had dispersed. The department will issue a statement later in the day.

Bristow Beat will credit the citizen videographer at her request. As of now she asked that her video would not be publicly broadcasted.

*Bristow Beat originally said Carter was sprayed with tear gas, but statements from the Virginia State Police suggests it was more likely pepper spray. 

This article has most recently been updated May 31 at 2:22 a.m. 

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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