Protests last into the night in Johnson City; 11 arrested


UPDATE JUNE 2, 11:20 AM: Eleven people were arrested following a protest in Johnson City Monday night.

Officials at the Washington County Jail confirmed that all 11 protesters have been released as of 11:50 a.m. on Tuesday.

Ten of the 11 arrested were charged with disorderly conduct and blocking a lane of traffic:

News Channel 11’s Kelly Grosfield and Jessica Fuller were at the Washington County Detention Center Tuesday morning as some of those arrested were bailed out.

Look for continuing coverage throughout the day on

UPDATE 2:45 AM: The protest at State of Franklin and University Parkway has dissipated and police have left the area.

Another demonstration is planned Tuesday evening at Founders Park.

There were several arrests and tense moments, but no reports of violence.

UPDATE 2:15 AM: Protesters once again returned to the intersection of State of Franklin Road and University Parkway.

They chanted “stand with us” at police officers and at one point laid down in the middle of the road.

After having a conversation with a JCPD officer, some protesters agreed to leave the intersection while others remained. Officers moved in minutes later and took at least two into custody. The others moved out of the roadway.

UPDATE 12:50 AM: A smaller group of protesters moved to Main Street in downtown Johnson City after police cleared a larger group from the intersection of State of Franklin Road and University Parkway.

At one point, protesters were blocking Main Street.

UPDATE 12:30 AM: Most of the protesters and police have left the area of the intersection.

UPDATE 11:45 PM: After protesters returned to the intersection of State of Franklin Road and University Parkway and blocked traffic, police moved in and cleared the intersection of protesters.

Pushing and shoving was observed and at least two people were placed in handcuffs.

Police in crowd control gear have formed a line to keep anyone from re-entering the intersection.

UPDATE 10:50 PM: Protesters made their way down Walnut Street after law enforcement blocked State of Franklin Road.

For awhile, protesters were in somewhat of a standoff with police on Walnut Street before they moved on toward ETSU.

While there have been some tense moments, the protest has remained non-violent. Police have continued to maintain a heavy presence around the crowd.

UPDATE 10:15 PM: Protesters are now making their through the downtown Johnson City area once again.

Johnson City police and the Tennessee Highway Patrol have maintained a heavy presence around the protesters.

UPDATE 9:30 PM: After participating in a peaceful protest in Johnson City’s Founders Park, protesters blocked a major intersection before marching to the Municipal and Public Safety Building on Monday night.

Protesters blocked the intersection of State of Franklin Road and University Parkway, prompting police to respond. Protesters asked police to kneel with them.

After several minutes, they left the intersection and walked down State of Franklin to the municipal building on East Market Street. City police and state troopers blocked intersections as the protesters made their way through Johnson City.

There were chants of “I can’t breathe”, “Black Lives Matters”, and “George Floyd.”

As of 9:30 p.m., protesters were still on State of Franklin between ETSU and downtown.

This is a developing story. Look for updates on

Previous story:

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) As protests across the nation continue in response to the death of George Floyd, the Tri-Cities area sees its fifth night of peaceful protests.

Local African-American leaders told News Channel 11’s Pheben Kassahun what they hope happens and how to build on the justice they said is already in this community.

A crowd gathered in Founders Park for a peaceful rally for justice, following the death of George Floyd, Monday afternoon.

Organizers said the rally was sparked by the inaction of leaders across the nation.

“The inaction of elected leaders to deal with serious public policy, the inaction of those with influence the critical conversations, in this case regarding race and descrimination. This long held history of inaction has led to a negative reaction,” Town of Jonesborough alderman, Adam Dickson told Kassahun.

Local African-American community leaders said Johnson City is already heading in the right direction.

“If we can sit down somehow and hear them say, ‘this is what’s in place for you, this is how we have your back’, I’ll be happy,” Johnson City Board of Education member, Michelle Treece said.

Johnson City Board of Education member, Michelle Treece, said she wants local leaders to walk hand-in-hand in the fight for justice.

“There were a lot of folks, some elected officials were there, some ministers and I was glad that happened. It was a prayer vigil,” Treece said. “As that was wrapping up, they were a group that were walking in, ‘protesters’ so-to-speak or those that were in solidarity, and I wanted to see the folks up on the steps, the elected officials, ministers in the area, the leaders, I really wanted them to come off those steps and join this group and just be there. They sang ‘lift every voice and sing’ and I wanted them to sing that. I stayed, and they may have stayed, and I didn’t see them but I saw a lot leave. Because that’s what the community needs to see that you’re with us and you see us.”

Treece said Johnson City does not have the same issues as Minnesota, and she hopes the protests spark a discussion for local officials.

Treece said, “Do our officers have training on this kind of thing, if and ever we needed it? Are they trained? What kind of provision is made for people of color in this town to make sure they’re fully part of this community.”

SEE ALSO: Local police departments on guard in case protests escalate

Treece added, “I think we have a community that is aware of what’s going on in our nation. We have small pockets of folks that those same national events impact here. Not at all at the same level, but we have folks who are aware of that, and I think when the community gets together and has a protest or vigil or stands in solidarity, I think it’s a way of saying, ‘We see you, we hear you and we want you to know that we support you.'”

Good Samaritan Ministrieis CEO, Aaron Murphy, agrees.

“There needs to be more conversations, there needs to be more sit-down meetings, there needs to be more. It hadn’t even been 60 years since there was segregation here,” Aaron Murphy said.

Adam Dickson said he is grateful for how peaceful the protests have been.

“I’m very grateful to see interacial cooperation and harmony. Folks wanting to come together to build community. Folks wanting to come together to say that they understand,” Dickson said.

He hopes the community can build on this.

“Talk about such things as providing opportunities for the community to speak so that we can listen. How do we promote healing, how do we promote a new generation of servant leaders,” Town of Jonesborough alderman Adam Dickson said.

Treece also warned about people with alterior motives when peaceful protesters are taking place.

“I think people come in and want to cause some destruction. We’ve had things and vigils in Founder’s Park in the past and nice things are going on and all of a sudden, you have a group who has nothing to do with this particular event, come in and want to start calling names and waving different flags and things like that,” Treece said.

Local NAACP chapter President Jean Neal, released a statement about the Tri-Cities protests stating:

“We are calling for the arrest and conviction of officer Derek Chauvin as well as the other three officers. We are saying Enough is Enough. We must keep our focus on redressing the systemic racism against out communities that led to this tragedy. We are requesting that everyone get out and vote and fill out Census Report. Join the local NAACP to help bring about a change. It is time for action instead of talk. Thank You.”

Jean Neal
Johnson City/Washington County NAACP

SEE ALSO: Family autopsy: Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure

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