Police use tear gas to stop protesters trying to cross New Orleans bridge

Published 6:37 am Thursday, June 4, 2020

Police in New Orleans released tear gas on hundreds of demonstrators who pushed past a line of officers to cross a Mississippi River bridge during demonstrations against the death of George Floyd.

A video of the incident obtained by The Times Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate shows a crowd of protesters running, shoving past each other, and shouting “walk” on Wednesday night as smoke envelops the background of the bridge.

The encounter came hours after a rally and a march that started near the New Orleans City Hall.

Some protesters were chanting curses at New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees, who earlier Wednesday was criticized by fellow high-profile athletes, including LeBron James, and some of his own teammates after saying he opposed kneeling during the national anthem on an interview with Yahoo.

Police had attempted to stop demonstrators as they walked up an onramp of the Crescent City Connection bridge, and several members who were leading the group were allowed behind the police line to talk to police commanders.

Officers fired the tear gas after “the crowd refused to comply with three orders not to attempt to walk across” the bridge, the New Orleans Police Department said in a Twitter Post Thursday morning. Police said they deployed the tear gas “in response to escalating, physical confrontation with our officers.”

The crowd retreated away from the gas, and when they recovered, some returned and challenged again. At one point, some protesters appeared to be hit with rubber bullets.

Shortly after midnight, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a Twitter post that “escalation and confrontation hurts all of us,” and pleaded with protesters to go home.