Downtown Reno erupted in chaos and violence on Saturday night as demonstrators protesting police brutality clashed with authorities.
In the early evening hours, police surrounded Reno City Hall after protesters broke windows on the south side of the building and set a small fire inside that was quickly extinguished.
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In the ensuing hours, Reno Police and deputies from the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department gradually pushed the protestors away from the building and then southward on Virginia Street to the south side of the Truckee River.
The demonstrations were a mix of protestors carrying signs and chanting slogans in protest of police brutality, part of a nationwide explosion of similar clashes sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died as a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.
Reno Police fired tear gas at protesters after a largely peaceful demonstration in honor of George Floyd turned violent in the evening. Reno Gazette Journal
The scene in downtown Reno Saturday evening followed a day of protesting that attracted well more than 1,000 people who were largely peaceful. As the day wore on, sporadic vandalism occured, which included destruction at the Second Street headquarters of the Reno Police Department.
By the time police dug in on the steps of city hall much of the first floor of the building sustained damage.
A loudspeaker warned demonstrators to disperse, a warning that was largely ignored, before police fired tear gas canisters into the crowd and pushed forward.
From that moment forward police and demonstrators pushed back and forth, with police gradually widening the amount of real estate they could control.
While some demonstrators sat on the street with arms locked and chanted slogans others threw water bottles and rocks at police and City Hall windows.
The standoff evolved into a cycle in which demonstrators would push closer to police until police fired tear gas flash grenades, which dispersed the crowd.
Gradually, police pushed their way down Virginia Street and the demonstrators backed southward across the Truckee River.
When the bulk of the demonstrators were on or across the Virginia Street bridge, police stepped up their push with more tear gas and demonstrators largely dispersed.
By about 10 p.m. most demonstrators had cleared the area at least dozens of people stayed in the area.
Some loosely formed small groups walked around downtown, breaking windows and committing vandalism as police followed and took control of more intersections.
People burned an electric golf cart at the bank building at Liberty and Virginia, broke into an ATM near the Pioneer Center and forced their way into the Patagonia Outlet store.
One man rode a motorcycle in circles on Virginia Street, stopping to taunt police.
People also destroyed multiple news crew vehicles and threw rocks in the general direction of police as they dispersed into the dark.
As the crowd of vandals continued down Virginia Street, some broke windows on the federal courthouse building.
One protester tried, but failed at, stuffing a wrong way sign into a nearby tree.
Benjamin Spillman covers the outdoors and environment in Northern Nevada, from backcountry skiing in the Sierra to the latest from Lake Tahoe’s ecosystem. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com right here.
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