ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) ─ City Market returned to downtown Rockford after a week away and protesters were not far behind. Despite attempts to keep demonstrators at bay, the evening ended the same way as a week ago, with arrests.
“That’s why we got here at like 3:30, right when it opened, to avoid anything like that,” said City Market goer James Kula.
In hopes of avoiding disruptions from demonstrations, market organizers expanded into Waterside Park to create a buffer between May 30th activists and patrons.
” I think it’s a really good move to have seating right behind us,” said Renee and Andre Radway, owners of Jammin Jerk Grill. “That was something welcoming to see because we were here two weeks ago when it started and in that same kind of like corner and the protesters were right behind our truck.”
Protesters did not agree.
“They’re still trying to silence us with that because we can only do so much, we’re going to make it work,” said a protester that did not want to be identified. “That’s what everybody’s feeling right now, like they, something has happened to them by the police that they know was wrong and they’re trying to speak out and this is their way of people speaking out”
Some vendors, like Jammin Jerk Grill, took precautions after seeing how fast previous protests escalated.
“There was a little bit of anxiety,” said the Radways. “Normally, we would bring our child out here with us, but to protect his well being, we decided not to tonight”
Early in the evening, demonstrators left a newly established protest zone inside Joe Marino Park to, once again, block traffic on East State Street. One by one, Rockford Police officers and Winnebago Sheriff’s Office deputies took protesters into custody. About a dozen people ended up in handcuffs.
“There’s literally a huge white bus over there, just waiting to put us all in there. There it is, right now,” said the unnamed protester. “Here it comes, there it is.”
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