BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — It was a march that started in the streets of Bridgeport and onto Route 8 just north of I-95. One hundred people stopping traffic and causing a massive backup of cars.
People started gathering on overpasses as police cars with sirens blaring tried to get through to where the protesters started marching on the roadway, blocking traffic.
“They’re not making a statement,” the onlooker said. “What they’re doing is creating mayhem.”
News 8 walked down the street and up a grassy hill to meet up with the protesters who were in the middle of the road. Our crew stayed on the side of the road, asking them if blocking the Connector is the right way to send a message about police brutality.
“Yes we do,” one of the protesters said. “Because if we don’t they won’t hear us. We’re doing this for y’all to hear us. If we don’t shut it down, y’all want us to be peaceful. We’re being peaceful.”
There was one incident in which a car managed to get through and one of the protesters was running after the car, swinging some sort of object at it.
“All that’s raw emotion,” a different protester said. “It’s bad raw emotion but everybody here loves everybody. We’re trying to show love and peace. they’re killing our people.”
The organizer of the protest telling News 8 they ended up on the Connector after marching to Bridgeport Police headquarters.
“All we wanted to do was talk to the chief,” said Joe Grits, the protest organizer. “That’s it — talk to the chief. They barricaded us. A few of us walked inside. They maced me. They maced another young man. Then they locked us in but when they finally let us out we got angry, we’re showing our frustration.”
News 8 did not see any conflicts between police and protesters on Route 8. Around 3:30 p.m., the protesters ended their two-hour takeover of the Connector and marched through city streets for one final protest at a park near the new city hall.
Watch: News 8’s LaSalle Blanks was live on the scene of protesters shutting down Route 8 Saturday
The organizer telling News 8 he believes they got their message across by speaking up and shutting down.
“We need change,” Grits said. “We need change.”
Connecticut State Police announced two arrests Saturday night due to the protest on Route 8. 21-year-old Tioni Martinez, and 21-year-old Alia Cotton, both of Bridgeport, were arrested when they refused to leave the roadway after the rest of the protesters dispersed
The ACLU of Connecticut issued the following statement about the Bridgeport protest Saturday evening:
People are in the streets demanding racial justice and an end to police violence. The protests happening in Bridgeport and elsewhere are a direct response to the violence that police perpetuate in Black communities across the country, including in Black and Latinx communities in Bridgeport and across Connecticut. Protesting for justice for all people killed and hurt by police is essential. People have the right to protest the police. The problem is not the response to police violence. The problem is police violence, including the systemic racism that gives police violence its roots. We call on police in Bridgeport and elsewhere to comply with the law and public safety by respecting people’s rights to peacefully protest. We are hearing reports that police in Bridgeport are using chemical agents and riot gear, and we warn the Bridgeport police to immediately stop putting people in danger with their escalation. We are closely watching, and to those protesting, we are with you.David McGuire, Executive Director, ACLU of Connecticut