Protesters say officers injured them in Johnson City rally against police brutality


JCPD Chief says arrests came after multiple warnings to clear road

Content warning: This article includes descriptions of violence.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Cracked teeth, bruises and a dislocated shoulder.

Protesters who took to Johnson City streets Monday night said officers injured them during demonstrations that stretched into the early hours on Tuesday.

Almost 12 hours after they were arrested, 11 protesters left the Washington County Detention Center, and many say they plan a return to the streets Tuesday night.

Previous story: Protests last into the night in Johnson City; 11 arrested

Some bore injuries they say they received while being arrested for protesting police brutality. Protests both peaceful and violent continue spreading across the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s death, a black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police while being arrested for allegedly passing a counterfeit bill.

Jeff Clark, a private citizen and the vice president of the Washington County Young Democrats, bailed nine of the 11 protesters out of jail for a total of $7,300 on Tuesday and said he’ll return to the detention center on Wednesday to bail out any protesters who may be arrested Tuesday.

Clark set up a fundraiser to help make bail for the protesters. As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, the fundraiser has collected more than $11,000.

“I’m concerned that these people were imprisoned for performing their first amendment rights to protest,” Clark said.

“This isn’t going to be the last time unless things rapidly change. I understand the anger.”

Elizabeth Allen left the detention center with a split chin, scrapes and cracked teeth that she says she got when officers arrested her.

Allen said she was watching officers arrest a female protester when her breasts were exposed to the crowd. Allen said she attempted to fix the woman’s shirt, and an officer “tackled” her to the ground.

“Two full-sized, 200-plus pound men were on me,” Allen said, adding, “They (the officers) put me down on the ground with such force that my jaw, obviously knocked down on the pavement, split open and blood was pouring from my jaw and into my hair and on the ground.”

As the protesters filed out of the detention center, Angela Carpenter, who is black, kept an eye out for her son, Dezmond, hours after she watched his arrest on a live stream of the demonstration.

Carpenter said she watched in horror as officers “slammed” her son to the ground and he was “held down with a knee on his neck.”

She called it the scariest moment of her life.

“I’m still hurt (by) this,” she said, adding that she fears for the lives of her son and other black children.

“I mean, my son and none of these kids asked for this.”

Angela Carpenter said that she watched her son Dezmond get arrested on a livestream.

Read more: Floyd protests persist across Tennessee another day

Dezmond Carpenter was arrested with the other 10 protesters and charged with disorderly conduct and blocking traffic. According to the report from the Johnson City Police Department, Carpenter was also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon after a jail employee found a handgun in his backpack, and Carpenter could not produce a state handgun carry permit.

Officials also discovered that Carpenter had outstanding arrest warrants for aggravated burglary and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which set his bond higher than those of the other arrested demonstrators.

Demonstrator Naythan Matherly said officers dislocated his shoulder while arresting him. He also pointed to several scrapes and bruises that he said he received from officers arresting him.

He said police began “throwing” protesters “to the ground” when the demonstrators locked arms in a non-violent demonstration in the street. He said after he was arrested, repeated requests for medical assistance were denied.

Demonstrator Naythan Matherly said he sustained injuries including a dislocated shoulder when police arrested him early Tuesday morning after hours of protest.

Matherly is one of the many protesters who said he plans to return to the streets tonight. He decried the reponse from officers on Monday night, and described officers’ response to the demonstrations last night as “overkill” and that it “pushed protesters over the edge.”

“In other cities, they’re burning down buildings and breaking glass and everything and still just pushing them,” he said. “You don’t hit people, you can’t. That’s assault. “

Police Chief Karl Turner said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon that a few Troopers were assaulted as arrests were being made. He acknowledged that one woman suffered a split chin and declined medical attention.

Mayor Jenny Brock said officials began taking part in demonstrations that began in Founders Park Monday evening, but that a band of protesters left those demonstrations early and began marching in the streets.

Turner, who said he’d planned to march with protesters, said he couldn’t participate because people began blocking traffic in the road.

Officials said the concern lies partly in the safety of the demonstrators – City Manager Pete Peterson cited the danger protesters face in the road at night, where motorists may not be able to see them.

The Johnson City Police Department provided one report when asked for the arrest reports for all 11 demonstrators. The report does not indicate whether officers used force to arrest demonstrators.

According to the report, officers asked protesters to move onto the sidewalk several times when they began blocking four lanes of traffic on West State of Franklin Road with their bodies.

Twice, police formed a line and began to advance toward the demonstrators, according to the report, and commanded them to move out of the roadway. When the protesters refused to move, officers took them into custody, the report said.

Washington County deputies, Tennessee State Troopers and Greeneville City Police Officers joined JCPD officers after a call for mutual aid.

Protesters said they plan to continue demonstrations beginning at 6 p.m. in Founders Park. Brock said she planned to march with demonstrators if they remain on the sidewalk and don’t march in the street.

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