Nine people were arrested Thursday night after a protest in Fontana swelled into a chaotic scene, sparked by national outrage over the controversial death of George Floyd, police said.
Floyd died on Monday, after a Minneapolis police officer was caught on video kneeling on his neck. The incident has led to protests nationwide, including in Southern California.
In Fontana, the protest began “peacefully” around 6 p.m. in the 8400 block of Sierra Avenue when about 50 people gathered near the library, the Fontana Police Department said in a news release.
The group of protesters grew to about 100 and some began to block traffic on Sierra Avenue, a major thoroughfare, police said.
“The protesters then began to damage property by throwing rocks at business windows as well as at passing vehicles,” police said in a statement. “The group continued to move north and south on Sierra Avenue while blocking traffic and throwing rocks at businesses and passing vehicles.”
Video from the scene showed police officers firing tear gas to try and control the crowds.
Around 9 p.m., police began to make several announcements from a police vehicle PA system, and a police helicopter PA system, to let the crowds know they were now considered “an unlawful assembly,” because of their actions.
“The subjects were ordered to disperse, but some members of the group instead chose to continue to block traffic on Upland Avenue and Sierra Avenue while throwing rocks at officers,” police said.
The crowd dispersed after about an hour, police said.
Police arrested nine people on suspicion of various charges related to the protest.
Fontana police reached out to local agencies for mutual aid and several agencies arrived to assist. Property damage was reported, including broken windows at Fontana City Hall.
Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren said she understand’s the public’s outrage, but believes there are others ways to address it peacefully.
“When you see social media and all walks of life saying ‘this is wrong.’ Everyone knows what they did to Mr. Floyd was wrong,” Warren told KTLA. “All of those kinds of images people are sick of. And if it’s all just because you’re black it’s wrong. But that doesn’t mean we can’t sit down and have conversations and try to move forward.”
Pastor Dan Carroll, of Fontana’s Water of Life Church, said Floyd’s death should never have happened.
“This should not be happening to African American men in America today,” Carroll told KTLA. “We’ve got to be more thoughtful, caring and just as a country,”