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Prince William Police Say Recent Protests Have Been Peaceful

| June 4, 2020 | 0 Comments | News

A group of Protesters march up Linton Hall Road, June 2.

Prince William Black Lives Matter protests have proved peaceful since Sunday according to Prince William Police.

Police closed Sudley Road in Manassas, Tuesday night, out of concern for protesters and others, said PIO Sgt. Jonathan Perok. It was not a response to violence.

Prince William residents participated in several Black Lives Matter protests in response to a video that showed a Minneapolis Police Officer killing Floyd George, a man in his custody.

Although it took place in the same place as the Saturday protest, the June 2 protest along Sudley Road in Manassas remained peaceful.

The night began with peaceful protesters who met at the corner of Sudley Road and Sudley Manor Drive. At some point police witnesses several motorists behaving belligerently towards protesters and driving aggressively near them.

In response, police took action to close nearby roadways and redirect traffic, which Perok said was light that evening. Perok posted notices on social media for people to avoid the area. 

After nightfall, the crowd of approximately 200 people began marching down Sudley Road in the direction of I-66. Police closed the road at the Lomond Drive intersection near the highway. However, as group began to go onto the interstate, Prince William Police called state troopers to protect protesters and motorists along the highway.

According to spokeswoman Corinne Geller with the Virginia State Police, state police ordered them off the road.

“The Virginia State Police encountered a group of protesters trying to make their way from Sudley Road to Interstate 66,” Geller said. “State police publicly announced to the protesters that they needed to disperse or risk arrest. The protesters complied and dispersed. No state police were injured. No arrests made.” 

Perok said the protest remained “peaceful,” so Prince William Police did not need to declare an unlawful assembly. Perok said police offered them, “leeway.”

The protest in Gainesville along Linton Hall Road, Monday night, also remained peaceful, according to Perok. That protest was planned a few days in advance, giving police some warning and the ability to work with organizers and the Virginia Gateway Shopping Center. 

That protest began at the Regal Cinema at 5 p.m. Approximately 500 protesters marched along Linton Hall to Route 29 and back to the movie theater. 

It was a diverse group. The majority wore masks to limit transmission of the COVID-19. 

Bristow Beat witnessed only positive interactions between protesters and police officers who made it known they were there to assist in the protest. Police joined the protesters in solidarity for the cause of an end to police brutality.

But closed roads and shopping centers meant motorists meant protesters only gained exposure through videos, photos and news coverage. 

After the organizers ended the rally on a positive tone around 7:30 p.m. People hung around a bit, then headed home.

But a fraction of mostly young people headed in the other direction. Bristow Beat witnessed them enter Linton Hall via Limestone Drive. Police responded and directed traffic at those intersections.

Perok said local had been peaceful since Saturday night, which was the exception.

Saturday’s Sudley Road protest grew unruly as some protesters threw rocks and bottles at police officers and their vehicles. An unlawful assembly was called at that time and state police were called in to assist. In response to the violence, state police employed tear gas, pepper spray and shot rubber bullets at the crowd. 

Protesters damaged the store fronts of five businesses along Sudley Road. Five arrests were made and officers sustained minor injuries.

After the Saturday incident, Lt. Col. told the Prince William Board of County Supervisors he would take responsibility with for the actions of all police departments.

He said next time they would implement better communication and they wanted to create a cordial relationship with members of the communities they served. Supervisors were sensitive to the cause while balancing a need for law and order. 

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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