POLICE in the US city of Cleveland used pepper spray to disperse a crowd following a civil rights conference on Sunday.
Website Cleveland.com reported that the incident occurred after the closing of the Movement for Black Lives national conference at Cleveland State University on Sunday afternoon — itself called to draw attention to police brutality.
Speakers at the conference included the father of Michael Brown, who was shot dead by police in Ferguson, Missouri, last year, the mother of Eric Garner, suffocated in a choke hold by New York police and the mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old Cleveland boy shot by police in 2014.
After most delegates had left dozens still remained in the streets when officers from the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) were seen arresting an allegedly intoxicated 14-year-old black youth on a bus.
Delegate Yasmin Yonis posted photos of the arrest on Twitter, accusing police of waiting until the majority of attendees had left to “attack our people.” She added: “Our family resisting.”
After the crowd surrounded the officers’ car and an ambulance in which the boy was being treated, one officer used his irritant pepper spray on protesters.
The boy was eventually released into the care of his mother, to cheers of “we love you!” A video of the incident has circulated widely on the internet.
A statement by the RTA said: “The crowd kept the police car from leaving the area. A transit police officer used a general burst of pepper spray in an attempt to push back the crowd, to no avail.”