Protests in Elkhart, South Bend stay peaceful, tear gas used during Fort Wayne, Indy demonstrations

(Photo supplied/ABC 57)

Hundreds of people protested peacefully in Elkhart and South Bend in regard to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Floyd died after a police officer in Minneapolis put his knee to Floyd’s neck during his arrest in a video that went viral.

The protest in Elkhart, on Friday, May 29, was peacefully, unlike other protests took place across the nation. Both Elkhart’s mayor, Rod Roberson, and police chief, Chris Snyder, spoke to and with the crowd, promising that their city would promote change and accountability for police officers, and that looting and rioting would not happen there.

About 400 people attended a protest on Saturday afternoon in downtown South Bend, which was also peaceful. Another protest in downtown South Bend was set to take place on Saturday night.

A demonstration that took place in downtown Fort Wayne, Friday night, got out of hand.

Fort Wayne Police released a chemical agent, identified by some there as tear gas, to control the crowd.

The demonstration in downtown Fort Wayne started at the Allen County Courthouse, but eventually led to demonstrators sitting, marching, and standing in the middle of the road nearby.

Police were called to the scene, with more tear gas and rubber bullets deployed, as some demonstrators began to damage downtown buildings.

Journalists from several Fort Wayne media agencies, including the Journal Gazette and our Partners in News at ABC 21, also reported being hit with tear gas as they attempted to cover the story.

Mayor Tom Henry released a statement asking for peace and urging all citizens to come together, rather than driving everyone further apart:

“The City of Fort Wayne respects the rights of individuals to participate in peaceful demonstrations. Tonight’s demonstration in downtown Fort Wayne began peacefully. As the demonstration moved along, it began to get more aggressive and the safety of the public was being put at risk. The Fort Wayne Police Department ultimately had to respond in a manner to protect the public’s safety.”

Police and protesters met in a confrontation in downtown Indianapolis.

The crowd of about 100 people stopped taking direction from police, claiming they had unfairly cuffed a woman and put her in a police car.

When the protest moved close to the Indiana state house, police used pepper balls and tear gas to try and break the crowd up.

They continued their activities for several hours, damaging businesses and firing gunshots.

 Governor Eric J. Holcomb offered the following statement.

“Hoosiers have long been people who find solutions to the challenges we face, whether it be in response to a pandemic or to an injustice like the world witnessed so tragically inflicted upon Mr. George Floyd in Minnesota.

“As I stated yesterday, injuring the innocent in response to an injustice is counterproductive. I’ve asked the Indiana State Police to fully support and make resources available to local communities across our state to ensure our citizens and their property remain safe.

“In the days ahead, peaceful assembly and clear voices will be important if we are to make progress.  Violence and vandalism will set us back in our shared desire to resolve differences.  Let us again, each of us, be part of the solution.”


Network Indiana and Darrin Wright/WOWO contributed to this story.

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