By Carole Wirszyla | June 17, 2020 at 1:04 AM EDT – Updated June 17 at 9:16 AM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday, Black Lives Matter protesters took to the streets in downtown Wilmington and the tension rose when they sat in the middle of North 3rd Street. According to a police spokesperson, five people were arrested.
Earlier, a protest to “Occupy the City Council Meeting” took place around the Convention Center where Wilmington City leaders were holding a meeting to approve the Fiscal Year 20-21 budget.
The Wilmington Advocacy and Protest Organization (WAPO) was joined by the Black Lives Matter protesters. Together they surrounded the building.
Some protesters attended and spoke during the public hearing portion of the meeting and asked council to consider seven demands.
After the meeting, protestors were not satisfied and marched to North 3rd Street to talk about the outcome.
“It was a public hearing, but it wasn’t,” said Lily Nicole, one of the protest organizers.
She said her live feed was cut while she was talking and that city officials tried to silence her.
“This was a done deal and there was no opportunity to make any changes to the proposed budget,” she added.
When the protesters came to North 3rd Street, they were upset with the outcome so they decided to sit in the middle of the road.
Police arrived and told the organizers they could not block traffic.
After a minor scuffle that resulted in one protester being taken to the hospital and some arrests, the protesters moved to the side of the road.
Organizers then asked the police to leave and they did.
Former mayoral candidate Devon Scott was at the protest and said he understood the protesters’ frustrations but called for protests that have impact without getting unruly.
WECT reached out to Councilman Clifford Barnett who was watching the protest on Facebook live.
“We are interested in what they have to say,” Barnett said. “They have a lot of energy. I hope they all use that energy to make decisions for everybody and that they use their voices in November.”
He also commended the Wilmington Police Department and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office for their work.
By 12:15 a.m., the protest was still active on the steps of City Hall.
Lily Nicole said they would continue to protest peacefully until those who were arrested are released.
According to the Wilmington Police Department, the following people were arrested:
- Zachary Alan Ulrich, 30
- Jarod David Nizen, 22
- Brandon Zachary Odeh, 25
- Israel Alexander Sorenson, 28
- Christopher Steven Haynes, 31
Their charges were not readily available, according to a WPD spokesperson.
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