Police said the protest started peaceful Friday night and became destructive as it continued into the early hours of Saturday morning.
VANCOUVER, Wash. — Police said they made six arrests early Saturday during a protest in Vancouver that followed the death of Kevin Peterson Jr., a 21-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by Clark County deputies two days earlier.
On Friday night, before the protest, hundreds of people attended a vigil in the U.S. Bank parking lot in Hazel Dell where deputies fatally shot Peterson. Investigators said Peterson was armed with a gun.
Some counter-protesters who opposed the vigil showed up and caused disruptions. There were a few scuffles and heated exchanges reported between the two groups.
Many of the people who attended the vigil then walked to Esther Short Park in Vancouver.
Around 10 p.m., a crowd of about 300 people had gathered at the park to voice concerns about Peterson’s shooting death, according to the Vancouver Police Department.
Here is a timeline of events during the subsequent protest that took place, according to Vancouver police:
- 10:15 p.m. — The group began “taking over the street and blocking traffic” in downtown Vancouver. As the group of demonstrators grew, “their peaceful conduct switched to destructive behavior to include destruction of property and vandalism.”
- 11 p.m.-11:50 p.m. — Police learned of two dumpster fires in the downtown Vancouver area.
- 12:15 a.m. Saturday — Police said the group congregated near the Clark County Jail and became more aggressive. Some began throwing rocks at law enforcement officers. Officers ordered the crowd to disburse, which it did before protesters again congregated near Esther Short Park minutes later.
- 12:25 a.m. — There were reports of shots being fired in the air by one of the protestors. No related injuries were reported.
- 12:54 a.m. — After giving multiple orders for the group to disperse, police said protesters began to spread out. Police engaged the crowd, and most protesters moved out of the area.
- Police said multiple downtown businesses were graffitied and had their windows smashed during the protest.
Six protesters were arrested for failure to disperse, police said, adding that they did not use chemical munitions during their response.
In a statement, the police department said it “acknowledges the event that led to the community expressing itself through demonstration activity and respects the rights of individuals to peacefully assemble.”
“Violence and destruction does not benefit anyone,” said Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain, adding that his department is “committed to working with the community toward improving trust and policing practices but does not condone criminal behavior.”
Deputies fatally shot Peterson during an encounter Thursday evening in Hazel Dell. The details of what led up to the shooting are unclear at this time.
Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins said detectives were conducting a narcotics investigation on Highway 99 just before 6 p.m. Thursday when they got in a foot chase with Peterson, who they say was armed with a gun.
Aktins said Peterson was killed in an exchange of gunfire with deputies in the U.S. Bank parking lot on Highway 99. Southwest Washington Independent Investigate Response Team (SWIIRT), who is leading the investigation into the shooting, has not said if Peterson fired the weapon.
SWIIRT said Peterson was suspected of selling drugs in the parking lot of a nearby motel, and that he was alone in his car when Clark County deputies showed up.
SWIIRT said Peterson fled and the deputies were chasing after him when he pulled out a gun, prompting the deputies to back off.
A short time later, police said Peterson encountered three Clark County deputies, all of whom fired their pistols. A pistol was found near Peterson’s body, SWIIRT said in a statement Friday.
KGW has asked for clarification from Battle Ground Police Chief Mike Fort, who is providing public information on behalf of SWIIRT, about whether Peterson fired a gun or not. KGW has made multiple attempts to get additional information from Camas Police, SWIIRT and Battle Ground Police.