WATERLOO – Police used tear gas and flash-bang grenades to break up a protest early Wednesday morning in downtown Waterloo.
Late Wednesday night, a crowd of a few hundred again took to the streets of downtown, but protests remained peaceful as of midnight.
The protest late Tuesday and early Wednesday marked the second-straight night Waterloo police intervened to end demonstrations protesting the Memorial Day death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
As with previous nights, demonstrators gathered in Lincoln Park before marching through the streets of downtown Waterloo.
Five people were detained.
For much of the trek, squad cars got ahead of the crowd to offer a de facto police escort as protesters sometimes waded into traffic and turned the wrong way down one-way streets and bridges.
The group stopped outside the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office, where they were met by deputies outside. After several minutes of chanting, demonstrators moved on, eventually heading south on the northbound First Street bridge and then up a grass embankment and onto U.S. Highway 218.
Officers said a member of the group threw a rock from the elevated position that struck the top of a marked and occupied squad car that was heading to block traffic for the safety of the crowd.
Police moved to shut down highway traffic, ordered the crowd to disperse and launched tear gas as the group went down the opposite embankment. Police said they broke up the crowd because they were unable to assure the safety of those blocking the highway from oncoming traffic.
A brief standoff ensued in nearby Washington Park with more tear gas and a flash-bang grenade.
“Go home,” police shouted over bull horns.
“This is our home,” a protester answered.
Some demonstrators retreated back into the neighborhood or left the area.
Officers arrested five Waterloo residents --- Amos Wise, 20, charged with rioting, and interference with official acts; Jordan Begley, 21, rioting, and failure to disperse; Theresa Schmidt, 21, rioting, interference and failure to disperse; Dena Soteros, 25, rioting and failure to disperse; Paul Michael Weidler, 18, rioting, failure to disperse, assault on officers and harassment of a public official.
Police allege Weidler was seen throwing a rock at officers.
On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, several businesses in the Crossroads area closed early and barricaded their front doors. Some convenience stores in Waterloo usually open around the clock also closed for the night.
Downtown, several business owners stood outside and kept watch over their properties during the demonstrations on both nights.
Late Wednesday night, protesters, some with signs, chanted “No justice, no peace,” “Black lives matter” and “George Floyd,” the name of the man killed by police in Minneapolis recently, as they marched through closed stretches of highways and streets around downtown Waterloo.
Local deputies and police — some wearing riot gear and carrying plastic shields — watched as the crowd walked across a stretch of northbound U.S. Highway 218 blocked off by law enforcement.
At one point, Sheriff Tony Thompson knelt with marchers in the parking lot at City Hall.
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