ROCKFORD (WREX) — Nine protesters are arrested Friday night in downtown Rockford.
A protest took place at East State and Water streets. A group associated with Rockford Youth Abolitionists (RYA) held the protest. They have been holding protests in Rockford since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and have accused Rockford of police brutality. They have rallied in this particular area on multiple Fridays during Rockford City Market, blocking traffic on East State Street.
The Rockford Police Department says it responded to the area at around 6:55 p.m. regarding citizen complaints about a group of protesters blocking traffic and being disruptive. Police eventually began detaining people, ending the rally about one hour after it began. Among those arrested was RYA Spokesperson Leslie Rolfe.
Some of the protesters went peacefully with police, while others kicked and screamed in objection. More than 24 officers were at the protest Friday from both the Rockford Police Department and the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office.
Rockford Police say five men and four women were arrested for various charges. The charges consist of:
- Aggravated Battery on a Public Roadway
- Aggravated Battery to a Police Officer
- Disorderly Conduct
- Mob Action
- Resisting Arrest
This week, city market was canceled in anticipation of this protest. Market organizers say it's because protesters have become increasingly aggressive and disruptive. RYA has vowed to continue being disruptive until it says it gets justice for people brutalized by police.
This all comes a day before a Back the Blue Rally is scheduled to take place Saturday at the Winnebago County Justice Center. The rally aims to show appreciation for the work of law enforcement. Winnebago County GOP and other groups are working together to put on the event. The rally starts at 10 a.m.