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Numerous protesters arrested Thursday night in Winston-Salem

Numerous protesters arrested Thursday night in Winston-Salem

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Winston-Salem Police arrested around 16 protesters late Thursday night in front of the Forsyth County Public Safety Center after a tense protest where demonstrators harshly criticized law enforcement officers.

Police couldn’t immediately confirm the exact number of arrests.

Winston-Salem Police Lt. Todd Hart said the protesters will be charged with misdemeanor impeding traffic.

“None of the protesters resisted being arrested,” Hart said. “They were all very cooperative.”

The arrests followed a 9 p.m. protest where nearly 40 people demonstrated in front of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, criticizing Winston-Salem police for arresting five demonstrators the previous night.

The protesters conducted a demonstration that lasted more than 2 hours. They walked around the sheriff’s office on Church, Third, Chestnut and Fourth streets.

Sara Hines of Winston-Salem, a protester, said that Wednesday night’s arrests of five demonstrators for impeding traffic on Church Street was a measure to intimidate the protesters at future demonstrations.

“This is our city, and these are our f---- — streets,” Hines said. “Those arrests were just photo ops for the police. They were meant to intimidate us.”

During the Thursday protest, several officers in police patrol cars drove by the demonstrators on Church Street.

Winston-Salem police arrested four protesters Wednesday evening during a Black Lives Matter rally to demand more information about John Neville’s death.

Neville died in December 2019 after being placed in a “prone-restraint,” meaning he was face down and restrained in some fashion — and, as a result, Neville was unable to breathe, which caused a brain injury that would eventually kill him, according to Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill.

Five detention officers and a jail nurse are charged with involuntary manslaughter in his death.

Before the demonstration began, Hart told the protesters that officers would not block the streets and warned the demonstrators not to block traffic on the streets near the sheriff’s office.

If they did so, they could be arrested, Hart said. He urged the protesters to stay on the sidewalks.

“You can protest all that you want,” Hart said to the demonstrators. “That’s your constitutional right. I don’t have a problem with that. We don’t want anyone getting hurt.”

During the demonstration, Calvin Peña, a protest organizer, said that Wednesday night’s arrests was an attempt to impede the demonstrators’ rights to protest.

“They (police) want us to be silent,” Peña said.

jhinton@wsjournal.com

336-727-7299

@jhintonWSJ

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