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More arrested after Gainesville Police vehicle ‘torched’ at private residence
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Protesters and law enforcement gather in the streets of Gainesville on Saturday, May 30, 2020. - photo by Shannon Casas

Update, June 2: A handful of arrests were made after a Gainesville Police patrol vehicle was vandalized at a private residence.

Gainesville Police posted about the patrol vehicle “torched” Monday night leading into Tuesday morning.

“This is just one of the many patrol vehicles that have sustained damage over the past few days,” the police posted on Facebook. “Not only are officers having to deal with the dangers of their daily duties such as having rocks, bottles and fireworks thrown at them, now they are dealing with attacks at their own homes.”

Police said a female officer sustained injuries to her head after being attacked by a man “wielding a sharp weapon.”

“Sadly, this has been our reality the past few days,” the Facebook post stated. ”We say all of this to let you know that we are proud to serve our community. We will continue to protect and serve as the professionals that we are. We do not oppose you, we stand with you. We stand firm against violence. We stand firm for you, the community. As a community we must stay united against destruction and violence.”

Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said multiple arrests had been made in connection to the torched car, and the case is still under investigation.

Those arrested during weekend protests in Gainesville were mostly from the area and face misdemeanor charges.

The Times obtained additional information from local law enforcement about the nine arrested overnight May 30-31, including one person in a group of protesters approaching a Gainesville Police officer and yelling, “He’s by himself.  Let’s get him.” 

A 10th arrest was made the night of May 31 when the confederate monument in the downtown square, referred to as “Old Joe,” was vandalized.

Protesters began gathering Saturday evening along Jesse Jewell Parkway and were mostly peaceful. Tensions escalated later in the evening. The Hall County Sheriff’s Office made seven arrests between 12:15 and 1:15 a.m. Sunday, May 31, in the Jesse Jewell Parkway area extending to Main and Academy streets. 

The arrests include two charges of misdemeanor obstruction, three charges of disorderly conduct, one reckless driving and one pedestrian crossing outside of a crosswalk.

All of those arrested by the Sheriff’s Office had a Gainesville home address, according to an email from Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth.

A 19-year-old man allegedly “acted in a violent and tumultuous manner” toward a Gainesville Police officer “by joining a group of protesters running toward the officer, yelling, ‘He’s by himself. Let’s get him,’” Booth wrote in an email. The officer, Sgt. Kevin Holbrook, was speaking with The Times after much of the crowd had dispersed when the group came toward him. His helmet was flipped off his head and firecrackers were soon thrown in the street.

A 23-year-old man was arrested after being told multiple times to stop running, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

A 33-year-old man was allegedly throwing stuff and being disorderly during a protest, while another 20-year-old man was accused of running from officers and throwing items in the roadway, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

A 25-year-old man was arrested for not leaving the roadway at Jesse Jewell Parkway at Main Street, while one 35-year-old man was accused of running from two law enforcement officers “when he was being approached because he was standing/sitting in the middle of West Academy Street,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Gainesville Police arrested a 32-year-old Gainesville man they say was running in the middle of the road with a Halloween-style orange mask. He was charged with disorderly conduct.

The department made this statement on social media following Saturday’s protest.

“To our community, we hear you and we love you. Our community has come a long way when it comes to understanding each other. We are hurting with you and we want you to know that we stand with you. We know our community, and our community has had many peaceful protests and demonstrations in our city. We know that others from the outside have come to try to divide us, but we will stand with you and stand for you. Please do not forget that we are Gainesville, and Gainesville stands united. We will continue to work hard to protect and serve our great community, while standing up to those who choose to drive us apart.” 

Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch told The Times that Floyd’s death has left those in law enforcement “shocked and appalled and infuriated.” 

“The death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers has naturally sparked outrage across the nation and certainly in this community as well. The callousness, the disregard that was shown for George Floyd is sickening, and it leaves everyone, including law enforcement, shocked and appalled and infuriated. So, I completely understand the reasons for the protest. I think people should exercise their First Amendment rights, but of course that does not include any type of damaging property or breaking the law or infringing on someone else's rights."

Shannon Casas and Megan Reed of The Times contributed.