A public input hearing on Cincinnati's budget turned chaotic Thursday after a crowd of protesters shouted down a speaker calling for more police funding before moving outside to graffiti walls and burn the American flag.
What are the details?
City Councilman David Mann had cut the public input meeting several hours short, telling WXIX-TV that he felt "trapped" and "more and more uncomfortable" by the time the pro-police speaker had been jeered and booed off stage.
"This went from an emotionally charged evening to close to a mob," Mann told the local news station on the phone after the meeting. "We had one speaker who spoke in favor of the police, and he was shouted down. I said, 'Hey listen folks, we are here to listen to each other,' and then I was shouted down."
Police had to escort Mann outside the Duke Energy Convention Center as the crowd allegedly surrounded the stage.
Some council members chose to stay and continue to hear input from the few residents who remained inside the convention center. But most of the crowd had exited the building in order to protest outside, according to WXIX-TV.
Protesters burn the American flag
While demonstrating outside, the crowd decided to pull down the American flag on display near the convention center and burn it.
Briana Rice, a reporter for Cincinnati.com, was on the scene to document much of what happened. WXIX-TV's Amber Jayanth was also there. Jayanth reported that protesters said they "didn't have any feeling when they looked at the American flag."
Protestors say, “They didn’t have any feeling when they looked at the American Flag” before cutting it down and bur… https://t.co/OfB7JJWvnA— Amber Jayanth (@Amber Jayanth) 1592538558.0
The American flag is burning. https://t.co/4l3C6jfirU— Briana Rice (@Briana Rice) 1592535975.0
Posts on Twitter showed that protesters also graffitied the walls of the convention center with messages such as "Blue Lives Murder," "Say Their Names," and "David Mann, if you feel trapped, what are we?"
More graffiti. One says “blue lives murder.” Another says “say their names” https://t.co/zOuaQSdYZL— Briana Rice (@Briana Rice) 1592536913.0
Rice posted a video showing the crowd replacing the American flag with a Juneteenth flag.
Jayanth reported that the demonstration, which continued until close to midnight outside, was organized by a group called Mass Action for Black Liberation.
She added that the protesters were united around the goal of defunding the police and reallocating funds into programs that would build up the black community.