HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – After issuing an order to leave the area, authorities deployed a smoke bomb and then irritant gas to deter protesters from remaining in the area.
Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray said they made it safe for protesters to be in the area because several people had brought weapons to the demonstration. Those people were arrested.
Chief McMurray said that the event was peaceful, but was supposed to be over at 6 p.m. Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner ordered everyone to leave the area. McMurray said most of the original event organizers left the area but as far as he could tell, a “residual crowd of out-of-towners” remained.
Chief McMurray says the NAACP is sponsoring another event later in the week and authorities have invited everyone back on Wednesday to participate peacefully.
Chief McMurray said after asking people to leave they began making demands and authorities had to push the crowd down the street. Authorities released a smoke canister to “keep people moving”. Chief McMurray said when the crowd stopped moving and became confrontational again, they released a second canister with smoke that “was a little bit stronger, it had a taste of CS in it. As you can see my eyes are watering, my throat is choked up. I enjoyed the same thing that they enjoyed for a few minutes of uncomfortableness.”
McMurray said that there could be a few troublemakers who want to break windows, but officers were tracking those groups.