Cleveland Police Pepper-Spray Black Lives Matter Conference Attendees

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
A Cleveland transit police officer is shown here using pepper spray on several attendees at the National Convening of the Movement for Black Lives.

What started as a peaceful gathering at the first Black Lives Matter conference to discuss police brutality against African Americans ended with a 14-year-old boy being arrested and several conference attendees being pepper-sprayed by police.

The National Convening of the Movement for Black Lives began Friday at Cleveland State University and was ending Sunday when Regional Transit Authority officers approached the teen, later identified by witnesses as Jonathan Walsh, because police say he appeared to be intoxicated.


Jonathan was standing at a bus stop reportedly holding an open container and appearing to be "intoxicated to the point where he was unable to care for himself," according to authorities who issued a statement viewed by ABC 5.

Police say they escorted Jonathan to a bus shelter to gather information before doing a medical evaluation and then releasing the teen to his parents.

However, witnesses say, the police account is far from the truth, saying that the teen was slammed to the ground and placed in handcuffs. When those attending the conference confronted the officers about the teen's treatment, they say they were met with pepper spray.

Several witnesses posted video and commentary to social media regarding the incident. One photo of the teen does appear to show him in handcuffs.


While the police statement didn't address the handling of the teen during his detainment, authorities did say in the statement that pepper spray was used to move a crowd that was refusing to let a police car leave the scene.

According to police, Jonathan was treated on the scene and released to his mother later that evening. 


Read more at ABC 5.

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