EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)–Saturday night protesters took to the parking lots of area retail stores with a more aggressive approach than that taken earlier in the day.
Protesters lashing out at law enforcement, throwing bricks, setting fires and looting plants from the Lowe’s in East Peoria. Leading to officers retaliating with pepper bullets.
“People have the right to protest, but when we start having projectiles thrown at officers on scene, then we do have to have some dispersal of the crowd,” said East Peoria Police chief, Steve Roegee.
These actions coming just hours after the peaceful, We Matter march through the streets of downtown Peoria. Organizers say this was not affiliated with their event.
“In comparison to over 1000 people marching for peacefully, what’s right there’s nothing much to say,” said co-organizer of We Matter march, Sincere Williams.
“We do not condone that, we are trying to do that in a peaceful,” said co-organizer of We Matter march, Autumn Cain.
Autumn Cain, who helped organize the peaceful protest does not support rioting herself, but sees where they’re coming from.
“People are coming from a place of anger and hurt, and instead of vilifying those people, making them feel bad; we need to talk to them and explain to them that peace is the way to move forward,” Cain said.
Although both groups want change and support the same goal, they disagree on keeping the peace.
“They agree with the protests and standing up for what’s right but not with the peace part,” Williams said.
Two protesters from Saturday night’s more aggressive protest say they did not attend the protest earlier in the day.
“Hell no. We are here now though. This is a protest too,” said a female protester.
Cain says to anyone who was at the protests in a more, hostile way their actions won’t fall on deaf ears.
“We’re still fighting for you and still love and care about you too. Your voices matter and are still heard,” Cain said.
No one was hurt during Saturday night’s protest and according to the Lowe’s manager via phone there was only minimal damage. He could not say how much was stolen in plants, but thanks to community support the messes were cleaned up quickly Sunday morning.