South Carolina protests continue in Rock Hill; arrests reported

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At least eight people were arrested in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on Thursday as protests continued for a second straight night following the release of a video that showed police arresting two Black men in a struggle at a gas station Wednesday.

Dozens of people showed up at the Rock Hill Police Department to protest and officials said the arrests occurred over the span of three hours, WSOC-TV of Charlotte, North Carolina, reported. 

At one point, officers in riot gear arrived at the scene and assisted with a medical emergency, according to the station. 

Police and protesters were captured getting into an altercation just after 7 p.m., according to a video posted on Twitter by Alexandra Elich, a reporter with Charlotte’s WCCB-TV. 

People demonstrate Thursday, June 24, 2021, in downtown Rock Hill, S.C.  (Associated Press)

Tensions appeared to escalate later in the night. Around 11:15 p.m., Elich wrote that police chased and arrested someone who threw a firework – and additional arrests were being made. 

“It is chaos,” she added.

The second night of protests occurred after Rock Hill police released a statement Wednesday night detailing the incident from their perspective. They identified the men as brothers — Ricky Roderick Price and Travis Price.

In the statement, police said officers were conducting surveillance targeting violent and narcotic dealing offenders when they observed Ricky Price, a “known offender,” driving a black 2017 Mustang. He was stopped by officers after he allegedly made an illegal turn and “changed lanes unlawfully,” the statement said.

Police said Ricky Price allegedly attempted to flee, punched an officer, and had drugs on him. The other man, Travis Price – who later arrived at the scene — allegedly shoved officers and refused to comply. The brothers were arrested. 

Video of the incident was released on Wednesday prior to the police statement. It appeared to show an officer punching one of the suspects several times as he and another officer attempt to make an arrest while the suspect is held on the ground. 

It has been viewed more than 111,000 times on Facebook and shared to the Rock Hill NAACP and Rock Hill Black Lives Matter chapter pages, the Charlotte Observer reported. 

The video’s release drew about 100 people to the Rock Hill Police Department headquarters around 6 p.m. Wednesday night to protest, according to WSOC-TV A fire was set outside the police station and rioters also threw objects at a police officer, the station reported. Other officers in riot gear arrived at the scene soon afterward, the report said.

Crystal Bryan of Sumter, S.C. confronts Rock Hill police Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in downtown Rock Hill, S.C. (Associated Press)

Two Rock Hill police officers were placed on administrative leave following Wednesday’s arrests of Ricky and Travis Price, reports said. South Carolina’s Law Enforcement Division also started an independent investigation into the incident. 

Rock Hill Police Chief Chris Watts told reporters during a news conference Thursday the measures were made in “keeping with public trust and transparency,” according to the Observer.

“We have met with local and state leaders, and we will continue to do so as we move forward,” Watts said. “The Rock Hill Police Department recognizes the pain and frustration our community feels over this incident. We want the public to know that their first amendment rights to assemble will be protected.”

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