Protests erupted in Lafayette, Louisiana, this weekend after 31-year-old Trayford Pellerin was shot dead by police officers on Friday evening. Demonstrators disrupted traffic and faced off against police Saturday night and they continued to block key roads on Sunday night. Protests also occurred in Wisconsin after Jacob Blake was shot multiple times in the back, putting him in critical condition. Video footage of both incidents quickly spread across social media.
According to a news release from the Louisiana State Police, the Lafayette Police Department responded to a disturbance around 8 p.m. on Friday. The incident was said to involved someone armed with a knife at a convenience store located along Evangeline Throughway. When cops arrived, Pellerin was in the parking lot of the convenience store.
According to the news release, cops tried to apprehend Pellerin, but “he fled the scene and a foot pursuit ensued.” Cops then tried to tase him but they were ineffective, according to the report.
The news release says that eventually, Pellerin tried to enter the convenience store and this is when cops drew their weapons and shot him. When Pellerin arrived at the hospital, he was pronounced dead. Cops weren’t injured, according to the release, and an investigation is ongoing. Pellerin was shot multiple times and the whole incident was captured in a graphic video. The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana is calling for an independent investigation into Pellerin’s death.
“Once again, video footage has captured a horrific and deadly incident of police violence against a Black person who was brutally killed in front of our eyes,” explained Alanah Odoms Hebert, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana.
Pellerin’s death is the latest of police killings that rocked the summer. As the fall season nears, people continue to demand justice for people like George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.
Pellerin’s shooting also comes just a few days before another Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot multiple times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday. The incident was also caught in a graphic video sparking major protests. According to CBS News, the Kenosha Police were responding to a “domestic incident” around 5:11 p.m. The video, which appears to have been taken from across the street, shows Blake walking around an SUV as cops yell at him with weapons drawn. One of the officers closely follows him from behind.
As Blake opens the driver-side door of the vehicle, the cop grabs the back of Blake’s shirt and seems to fire several shots into the man’s back. Around seven shots can be heard in the video. However, it’s not certain yet how many officers fired. After surgery, Blake is in stable condition, according to family.
Protests began almost immediately after Blake was shot and WDJT’s Kim Shine tweeted that demonstrators outside police headquarters were tear-gassed at least twice. There have also been reports of various vehicle fires near the headquarters and outside a local courthouse. A Change.org petition demands charges against the cops who shot Blake.
According to KATC, Louisiana protesters hit the streets for Pellerin on Saturday night, blocking traffic on Moss Street in Lafayette near a police precinct. Cops arrived on the scene in riot gear and gave a 10-minute warning before unleashing flares and smoke canisters into the crowd, reported KATC.
Interim Lafayette Police Chief Scott Morgan took a hard stance against those protesting in the evening versus those who demonstrated earlier in the day. He accused night demonstrators of blocking important roadways and starting several fires in a grass area. He said some cops also witnessed people throwing fireworks into one of their buildings.
“Our intent is not going to be to just let people disrupt our town and put our citizens and our motorists and our neighborhood in danger. We’re going to use those resources that we have and those other agencies and we’re going to enforce these laws,” Morgan said.
Many activists warned against “bad actors” mixed among the protesters. “If you’re one of these bad actors that comes in and sets fires and throws rocks and pops firecrackers, you’re not welcome here in Lafayette,” said activist Jamal Taylor, according to CNN. “That’s not the stuff that we’re doing.”
On Sunday evening, protesters continued demonstrating by blocking Ambassador Caffery Parkway near Johnston Street, according to The Acadiana Advocate. Cops threatened to tow cars parked in the Acadiana Mall parking lot and eventually the crowd seemed to disperse only to show up on Camellia Boulevard near Kaliste Saloom Road. Cops in riot gear met the protesters around 8:20 p.m. and nearly 20 minutes later, pepper bullets were unleashed and they released a chemical dispersant into the crowd.
Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garber issued a warning against “out-of-town agitators,” a move that’s usually used to undermine a movement.
“If any out-of-town agitators are watching this, if anyone’s planning to enhance their techniques tomorrow or the next day, we are ready for you,” he said. “We are prepared. We will not willingly give up the city. You will have to go through every resource that I have and every resource that the police have in order to do harm to the citizens or to their property.”
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump told CNN that he was one of the lawyers representing Pellerin’s family and he called for the cops involved to be fired.
“We refuse to let this case resolve like so many others: quietly and without answers and justice,” explained Crump, who also represents the families of Floyd and Taylor.