Four Prince William police officers were injured, several businesses and police cars damaged and five people were arrested during the five hours of civil unrest that police say took place in Manassas Saturday night after officers attempted to shut down what began as a peaceful protest against police brutality.
The protest, which occurred in the area of Sudley Road and Sudley Manor Drive, was one of several across the U.S. and in Virginia held Saturday in response to the death of Minnesota man George Floyd, who died in police custody Monday after an officer forcibly detained him by pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck until Floyd became unresponsive. The officer has since been charged with third-degree murder.
Protesters began gathering at about 5 p.m. in what began as a peaceful demonstration that eventually escalated, according to a police account of the events released just before 1 p.m. Sunday.
“The crowds increased significantly and became violent as some of the protesters proceeded into Sudley Road, stopping traffic, and throwing objects at passing motorists and officers,” the police statement said.
“Some of the protesters were also observed standing on top of motorists' vehicles that were stopped as a result of the obstruction and atop businesses in the area.”
As the protest became unruly, police declared an “unlawful assembly” at 8:11 p.m., the statement said.
After that, Prince William County officers, with assistance from the Virginia State Police, attempted to regain order as crowds were estimated at approximately 250 during its peak, the statement said.
Prince William police reported that rocks and other objects were thrown at officers and vehicles, prompting officers to call declare the unlawful assembly and attempt clear the area, according to tweets issued during the event.
“Multiple businesses along the Sudley Road corridor sustained damage and two small fires were reported to shrubbery and a trash receptacle,” police said in their statement Sunday. “Numerous police vehicles were also reportedly damaged throughout the evening.”
Four Prince William County police officers were injured during the event. One sustained a “significant head injury” requiring treatment at an area hospital, the statement said.
The five arrests included that of a driver charged with DUI and other offenses for driving through a police perimeter, “nearly striking officers posted at the location,” the statement said.
The other charges included unlawful assembly and obstruction of justice.
Also during the event, Del. Lee Carter, who joined the protest at about 10 p.m., was filmed shouting questions at state police officers in riot gear. Carter was later involved in a physical altercation with some offers before being sprayed with O.C. pepper spray, according to a Facebook live video of the event.
Prince William police officers were assisted in their attempts to contain the crowd and restore order by the Virginia State Police, the Prince William County Sheriff’s Office, Manassas City police, Fairfax County police and Haymarket police, the statement said.
At about 1 a.m. on Sunday, May 31, the crowds dispersed, and order was restored in the area, the statement said.