Inspired by the success of Seattle protesters in establishing what they have dubbed an “autonomous zone,” protesters elsewhere are trying to do the same, with far less success.
In Asheville, North Carolina, police showed up in force Friday night as protesters began putting up barricades, ending the idea before it could even take root.
— roberto pedone (@zerosum24) June 13, 2020
Police dismantle an Antifa “autonomous zone” in Asheville, NC. Not today, stalin. pic.twitter.com/xWeepUDxkp
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) June 13, 2020
According to the U.K. Daily Mail, activists said there were about 100 protesters involved in the Asheville “autonomous zone” effort.
And there were other efforts in different parts of the country.
In Portland, Oregon, protesters and police clashed Saturday before police won the round, according to the Portland Tribune. Headline: “Portland Autonomous Zone plans fizzle as protests continue.”
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) June 11, 2020
In Buffalo, protesters claimed they will camp out in Niagara Square, a downtown area, until the woman charged with driving an SUV into a crowd of police officers is set free from jail, according to WKBW-TV.
“We’re not going to go home, we’re not going to stay in comfort until Deyanna Davis is able to come home and heal and rest,” said Desmond Abrams, a member of the group Black Love Resists in the Rust, told the station.
#ICYMI: Protesters are occupying Niagara Square to demand the release of Deyanna Davis, the woman accused of driving the SUV that hit law enforcement officers during a Bailey Avenue protest at the beginning of the month. https://t.co/ggwpCzT4Q1
— News 4 Buffalo (@news4buffalo) June 14, 2020
Davis, 30, is accused of driving the vehicle that smashed through a group of law enforcement officers on June 1. In the incident, a state trooper suffered what was described as a “shattered pelvis and broken femur,” according to The Associated Press.
Davis was shot twice during the incident, according to The Buffalo News, once in the abdomen and one “across her back.”
It wasn’t clear how she was shot, but, according to the News, State Police opened fire on the SUV as the vehicle charged.
Also, a handgun that had been reported stolen in January was found in the SUV Davis was driving and had apparently been fired.
Casings found about 80 yards from where the vehicle struck the officers matched the stolen weapon. Matching casings were also found in the vehicle and on its roof, The Buffalo News reported.
There were two passengers with Davis in the vehicle at the time, according to the News. Davis and the passengers, identified as Semaj Pigram, 25, and Walter B. Stewart Jr., 28, have also each been charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, the News reported.
Davis’s mother, Ayanna Carr, has said her daughter was not a protester but was simply panic-stricken, according to WKBW. Erie County District Attorney John Flynn has said he has evidence to the contrary.
Davis faces a charge of aggravated assault on a police officer and assault in the 2nd degree as well as criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of stolen property.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said police are urging the protesters to go home for their own safety, noting that a light pole to which a hammock was attached fell and hit a protester.
“We do not want to have tents in Niagara Square,” Brown said. “That is the people’s property, that doesn’t belong to any one group of individuals. Some of the protesters were very cooperative, some were not.”
The clashes are part of the continuing fallout from the death of George Floyd, the Minnesota man who died in police custody on May 25.
The Seattle protest — which has essentially taken over a residential area of the city called Capitol Hill — has been criticized by the city’s police chief, praised by the city’s mayor and apparently came as a surprise to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
As the Seattle autonomous zone moves into its second week of existence, at least one organizer said too many people within it are there to party and not to protest.
“Somebody’s dead. Why do black bodies have to be in the street for people to have to show up?” Tracy Stewart, a mental health therapist who is black, told USA Today. “These people, I’m not even sure they know why they’re here.”
“White people need to stay in when it gets uncomfortable and stop treating this like it is a party,” she said. “The marching and the protesting, all of that is important. But the work is every day holding the mayor and the City Council and the Legislature and all the way up to the president accountable.”
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