Downtown ‘Back the Blue’ march ends in violence, two arrests made

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — There were tense moments on the streets of downtown Wilmington on Thursday as police confronted protesters.

It began as a peaceful march led by the Knights of Columbus to support law enforcement officers, but turned into a skirmish that led to an arrest.

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The march began at Chestnut and 3rd Street as participants made their way to Front Street back up to 3rd street.

Black Lives Matter supporters, who have been demonstrating downtown for two months, met the marchers as they approached Chestnut Street.

They argued with one another as they passed, the law enforcement supporters shouting “Blue Lives Matter!” as Black Lives Matter supporters responded with “Blue Lives Don’t Exist!”

“I think it’s great that they’re here, I think that’s what our first amendment afford us, but I also think it’s great that we’re able to be out here too,” a Back the Blue supporter said.

Both groups say they did not mind the other demonstrating, but a heated argument quickly turned physical.

A Black Lives Matter supporter told police a member of the law enforcement march had a concealed weapon.

The man was patted down by sheriff’s deputies and then began arguing with the Black Lives Matter protester.

They began pushing one another and that’s when officers got involved again.

Arresting the Black Lives Matter protester for disorderly conduct, and the man supporting the law enforcement march seemed to walk away.

“Why did he get to walk away? Now you can’t tell me it’s not a color thing because the white man just skated after the threats that he did to us,” A Black Lives Matter supporter asked law enforcement officers.

A young woman, who chose to remain anonymous, says she tried to deescalate the situation.

“This black officer pushed me to the ground and when I got back up, he pushed me again. And when I walked around the tree, I was like ‘don’t put your hands on me’ and when I walked around the tree he followed me and he grabbed my wrist and he said, basically saying, ‘Do you want to be next to get arrested?” she said.

Another witness says a different woman was shoved into traffic, but got out of the way.

“What we just witnessed was absolutely ridiculous. I mean, there’s no other way around it,” he said.

One Black Lives Matter supporter was arrested for disorderly conduct and another arrest was made for injury to personal property, it is unclear if that person supported Black Lives Matter or the law enforcement march.

It has not been confirmed that there was a concealed weapon on either side.