Community reacts to peaceful protest turning into riot in Uptown Greenville

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Sunday night ended in turmoil and destruction but before the violence there was peace.

“For the most part it was a peaceful protest but unfortunately you had some people that didn’t want to keep the peace,” Joe Young.

Young was part of Sunday’s march.

“I felt inclined to be out there to stand in solidarity for my people,” he said.

People are angry over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed at the hands of Minneapolis Police.

Sunday’s Greenville protest saw people chanting, singing, and marching with signs. Brian Massey saw the march and what happened afterward.

“At some point, a flash-bang grenade got tossed and then it went off and then there was some canister spewing pink smoke going off and then all the kids started to run toward 11st Street. They’re all anxious. Everyone is startled and scared. Then a line of police with their batons passed me and started pushing everyone forward,” said Massey.

They wanted to send a message. Now, they’re frustrated over how others tainted it.

“I couldn’t sleep last night. It was all running through my head, second-guessing what I did, worried about everything. It’s just heartbreaking,” Massey said.

Young and his friends are pledging to keep hope alive, peacefully.

“For me, what I stand on is protesting peacefully and standing in solidarity for George Floyd and his family, Breonna Taylor and her family, Ahmaud Arbery, and even Trayvon Martin and all the various people we have lost to the system and to injustices,” Young said.

Protest organizers released a statement Monday, thanking people who came out to march peacefully. Right now, they are not scheduling any more marches or protests. They hope to set up an official Black Lives Matter chapter in Greenville. ​

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