HOUSTON – A man who says he was trying to keep the peace during Friday night’s protest for justice for George Floyd, ended up under arrest after an encounter with Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.
Damon Whitlock said he is no stranger to social justice activism, having traveled to protests in Ferguson, Missouri and others around the country.
So he said it was only natural that he take part in protests over the death of George Floyd.
Whitlock said as the peaceful protest took a turn, he tried talking to the officers on the front lines.
Whitlock just moved to Houston in late February and says he didn’t know the man he was pleading with was HPD Chief Acevedo.
“I didn’t know him from a can of paint,” Whitlock said. “I said, ‘let’s make sure everybody gets home safe,’ and he was like, ‘Who they hell are you bro? Who are you?’ I told him we have our rights to march.”
Whitlock said as police began pushing the crowd back, he tried to keep things from escalating.
"Just give me a second, give us a second to calm things down. After that it was a no go people just went crazy," he said.
Whitlock said he and a friend were trying to leave as ordered when they were arrested.
“Somebody said, 'take ‘em down.’ The next thing, I’m on the ground,” he said.
Houston police said Whitlock was getting in between officers and the protesters who they were trying to arrest for allegedly throwing bottles and rocks at them and destroying property.
According to court documents, Whitlock, “refused to obey a lawful command of Chief A. Acevedo”.
In a statement to KPRC 2, an HPD spokesman said, “Mr. Whitlock was given multiple opportunities by ranking commanders, the highest of which was Chief Acevedo, to stop interfering. When he would not stop, he was arrested.”
Whitlock was charged with interference with public duties.
“They didn’t do us right, that was unjust. HPD knows what they did. A lot of people violated people’s rights especially mine,” Whitlock said.
Whitlock said he suffered a dislocated shoulder and fractured knee during the arrest.
According to the police report, HPD says he said he was not injured. Whitlock said he has not yet decided whether to pursue legal action against the department.