Deputies fire tear gas at crowd during protest in Lakewood after declaring unlawful assembly

LAKEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- What began as a peaceful protest in Lakewood Friday took a turn when authorities fired pepper balls and tear gas to break up the crowd.

Though several other demonstrations throughout Southern California did not see that type of confrontation, deputies deployed the tear gas at a group of about 100 as they started marching along Clark Avenue, approaching Lakewood City Hall around 3 p.m.

Sheriff's Lt. Michael Shawl said an unlawful assembly was declared due to some people in the group allegedly throwing objects at deputies. The crowd quickly scattered after deputies fired the tear gas but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

In a Facebook post, Lakewood Mayor Todd Rogers said that "deputies deployed pepper ball rounds and inert smoke adjacent to the suspects they identified as assaultive and it eventually succeeded in dispersing the crowd. One suspect was arrested. I am told that no tear gas was used.''

Rogers also wrote that he was "not reporting from an eyewitness account, as a critical family matter required that I be at another location at the time the incident occurred'' and was relying on "information I have been able to piece together.''

In nearby Long Beach, demonstrators continued to peacefully uphold their message against police brutality and racial injustice.

"In 2020, there's no reason why the color of my skin should be seen as a crime, to be putting me down lower than other people... People say the cops are scared. Well, we're out here scared," said Aaron Langford.

Despite the risk of possibly clashing with police, some said they could no longer remain silent after seeing the disturbing video of George Floyd's in-custody death in Minneapolis.

"There's been so many incidents of police brutality, that this one made a difference. This time America was able to see the entire video," one protester said.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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