Harrisburg protest over George Floyd turns violent; Police use pepper spray on protesters

Riot police, surrounded by Black Lives Matter protesters, stand outside the Pennsylvania Capitol building in May 30, 2020. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

Updated: 9:08 p.m.: Police in Harrisburg, according to PennLive, have been instructed to enforce a citywide curfew.

Updated, 5:51 p.m.: The protest has moved to Market Street, per PennLive, near the Dauphin County Courthouse:

Updated, 5:09 p.m., from Stephen Caruso:

Updated, 5:04 p.m.: In a Tweet, Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse has said that two Pennsylvania Capitol Police officers have been hospitalized as a result of the protest:

Meanwhile, police retreated from the Capitol steps.

Updated, 4:53 p.m.: PennLive reports that a Pennsylvania State Police news conference on the protests was cut short as tensions between protesters and law enforcement escalated.

From PennLive:

“Alexia Brown, a college student from the Harrisburg area who remained at the protest scene, described a fast escalating situation between protesters and police.

“’The peaceful protest has ceased. That part is over,’ she said. ‘There was a march started along Front Street with a lot of cops…a lot of cops came out in riot gear and were being very aggressive to those marching.’

“Brown said that someone threw a brick at a police car, denting it.

“’From there there’s been tear gas, children, adults being tear gassed, batons, a lot pushing and shoving,’ said Brown, who watched the scene near Forester from the steps of the Capitol.”

Previous story:

PennLive reports that Saturday’s peaceful rally to protest the death of George Floyd turned violent that protesters surrounded a police car along Front and Forster Streets, just blocks from the state Capitol, had surrounded a police car and were shouting obscenities at officers.

“Police in riot gear showed up,” event organizer Eamonn Wrightstone told PennLive. “People have been hit. Children have been tear gassed. It’s pretty bad.”

‘Let today not end today’: Hundreds rally at Pa. Capitol for George Floyd, Black Lives Matter

According to PennLive, “police in riot gear reportedly arrived and responded by shooting pepper spray into the crowd.” The Capital-Star was independently informed that Pennsylvania State Police had been dispatched as backup.

Police from East Pennsboro Township in Cumberland County had closed the Harvey Taylor Bridge, one of the main connecting bridges between Cumberland County and Dauphin County across the Susquehanna River. The bridge empties onto Front and Forster Streets where the incident was reportedly taking place. A Capital-Star reporter seeking access to the bridge was turned away by officers on the scene.

A Capital-Star reporter is on the scene. This post will be updated as events unfold.

PennLive video:

John L. Micek
John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. He's been covering Pennsylvania politics for more than 20 years and most recently served as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Micek's commentary is syndicated to more than 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. And he's a regular contributor to a host of broadcast outlets in Pennsylvania and abroad.
Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso is the Capital-Star's House reporter. He previously covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.