‘No justice, no peace’: New Haven protesters block traffic on I-95, Route 34; some pepper-sprayed outside police headquarters

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A peaceful protest took to the streets of New Haven Sunday, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody last week.

As with protests around Connecticut all weekend, the marchers in the Elm City remained peaceful, chanting “no justice, no peace” as they made their way from Broadway to New Haven City Hall, before taking to I-95 southbound.

RELATED: New Haven mayor says he’s working to start dialogue with protesters, community against racism

New Haven Police Department reported they were called around 1:15 p.m. to respond to “protesters blocking motor vehicle traffic on the merge of I-95, I-91, and the Oak Street Connector. Highway traffic was blocked until about 2:45 p.m.”

At one point protesters enacted a sit-in on I-95 as part of their peaceful protest.

After the protest moved off the highway, several hundred of those involved made their way to the steps of the New Haven Police Department headquarters at 1 Union Avenue.

Police directed traffic around the area. For the time being, police advised drivers to avoid the area.

“The event is a peaceful gathering,” NHPD says, “And the police department is standing by and monitoring it.”

RELATED: New Haven PD takes stand against police brutality as protests nationwide continue

At NHPD headquarters Sunday evening, Councilman Brad MacDowall of Hamden told News 8 he and a group of protesters were attempting to peacefully enter the police station – a public building – to have a conversation with Mayor Justin Elicker who had shortly before tweeted he was in the building. MacDowall said as he and the group he was standing with started advancing toward the building after declaring their intentions to PD, they were pepper-sprayed.

“We should not have to choose between public safety and people dying…We deserve better,” MacDowall.

WEB EXTRA: Full interview with protester, Hamden Councilman Brad MacDowall, after he and other protesters were pepper-sprayed by police

After the attempted entrance, police released a statement saying they have positioned officers in front of the main entrance for crowd control.

“Approximately 300 protestors remain at 1 Union Avenue.  No arrests have been reported as a result of this most recent activity,” police said.

Around 6 p.m. NHPD reported that many protesters had left police headquarters and returned to Oak Street Connector (Route 34) and blocked traffic again.

As of 7:45 p.m., NHPD say protesters appear to be leaving Route 34 headed toward the New Haven Green. They say about 150 protesters remain at PD headquarters.

Monday, Chief Reyes reported that there were no injuries or arrests from the protests throughout the day Sunday.

RELATED: Protesters temporarily shut down Interstate 84 in Waterbury

This protest mirrors protests in Waterbury earlier Sunday, and Hartford and Bridgeport Saturday that blocked other main thoroughfares.

The protest in New Haven is one of several happening around the state and around the country, as people take to the streets to denounce police brutality against minorities, the most recent instance being the death of George Floyd and the subsequent arrest of former officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and on the ground. Chauvin has been arrested and charged in Floyd’s murder.

RELATED: Fired police officer Derek Chauvin charged with murder in George Floyd’s death

In a statement Sunday evening, Mayor Justin Elicker addressed the protests in the Elm City Sunday saying he’s ready to meet with protesters and the community to work collaboratively against racism.

In a statement on Twitter, Governor Ned Lamont said of the killing of Floyd and the resulting protests he was shocked.

“I was particularly shocked that nobody tried to stop it. That nobody yelled ‘Stop! Enough!’,” he said. “Here we are a week later and there are demonstrations across the country. I was particularly moved by comments of our police chief from Bridgeport who said, ‘I would have been out there demonstrating as well, but I was busy keeping the peace.”

This is a developing story. News 8 will bring you updates as they become available.

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