A crowd protested into the night Wednesday in Rock Hill after a video surfaced showing what appeared to be the arrest of two Black men earlier in the day.
What started as more than 100 people outside the Rock Hill Police Department had grown by 8:30 p.m. to a few hundred. They marched through downtown and shouted “no justice, no peace“ as they left the police department to march across Black Street toward downtown.
The crowd later blocked the intersection of Dave Lyle Boulevard and Black Street, not far from the police department.
After several hours, law enforcement officers could be seen in that area.
There had been no violent incidents.
The Rock Hill Police Department issued a statement shortly before 9 p.m. that gave details, based on police reports, of what happened. The statement came from Lt. Michael Chavis.
The statement said Ricky Roderick Price and Travis Price had been arrested during an effort by the Rock Hill Police Department Violent Crimes Unit and the Department of Homeland Security to target “violent and narcotic dealing offenders.”
The video posted on social media showed what appears to be police officers and two Black men in a scuffle with one subject on the ground and officers on top of him.
That video was viewed 75,000 times on Facebook as of Wednesday at 11:30 p.m. and shared to the Rock Hill NAACP and Rock Hill Black Lives Matter chapter pages.
‘We want answers. We want justice.’
Rock Hill Black Lives Matter Chapter President Maurice Sutter was at the protest and said he and others want accountability for what he described, based on the video, as two people beaten by officers. He added that the community and country has seen unjust policing of Black people on video, and that now has come to Rock Hill.
“Two individuals were beaten by the police department of Rock Hill,” Sutter said. “We want answers. We want justice.“
A few hours into the protest, Sutter told The Herald that he has a meeting with Rock Hill police Chief Chris Watts scheduled for Thursday morning.
“We will meet with him right here at the Rock HIll Police Station,” Sutter said. “We need to hold these officers accountable. ... This is not how we treat our men and women in America.”
Demonstrators said they were from throughout South Carolina — from Greenville to Columbia, from Camden to Chester and Lancaster. Individual cars filled the intersection at Black Street and Dave Lyle Boulevard. Young people sat on the roofs of their cars. One person waved a Black Lives Matter flag. Some danced to music blaring from a motorcycle’s speaker. Others took turns giving speeches through a microphone and amplifier at the center of the intersection, where bottles of water were being distributed.
“Everybody needs to be equal,” said Jojo Wright, a Rock Hill native who first saw video at 6 p.m. “It’s not no Black versus white. We’d do it for the white folks. We just want it right. I want you to put in the paper: Make everything equal, not negative. ... (There’s) no way you can protect yourself when you’re in handcuffs and the police starts beating you like that. We have young kids out here. And when they see that on TV, and then they see a police officer trying to help them? They’re going to run away from them.”
Nadia White, another protester who has lived in Rock Hill all her life, said she watched the video live as it was posted to Facebook.
“This is on film, just like George Floyd,” she told The Herald. “Thank goodness this man didn’t die.”
She has seen similar situations all over the country, White said — “but I never thought we’d be out here on Dave Lyle protesting for one our people.”
White doesn’t know Travis and Ricky Price, she said.
“The police brutality is getting worse and worse,” she added. “Our lives matter, it feels like they’re only targeting African Americans. That’s the reason why we the people are trying to voice our opinions now, because something’s going to stop.”
Tobie Nell Perkins and Alex Zietlow contributed reporting.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.