Arrests were made and two officers slightly injured during a scuffle that broke out at mid-afternoon Wednesday in the area of the Oakdale Town Plaza, near F Street and South Second Avenue.
“As our investigation into Wednesday’s protest continues, we are getting a clearer picture of the events that led up to the fight that ended in arrests and left two Oakdale officers injured,” the police department noted in a statement posted on its Facebook page Thursday evening.
According to police, 33-year-old Nicholas Gonzales and 20-year-old Joseph Lutz, both from Oakdale, have been identified and charged in connection with the violent outburst.
“We also want to clarify that while Brandon Gray was initially arrested at the protest, further investigation revealed he was not an instigator in the fight. Gray was transported away from the demonstration to the police department and released a short time later,” the post indicated.
“During the demonstration, a convertible drove by and a person in the vehicle threw an object at the protestors. That was not captured on the cell phone video many in our community have seen. Gonzales then punched a passenger in the vehicle,” the post stated. “As officers intervened, a fight broke out. Initially, three people involved in the incident were arrested, including the man who punched the passenger. Officers then used a non-lethal sound distraction device to disperse the crowd. We then ended the protest, declaring it an unlawful assembly. Lutz was arrested for assaulting the officers. Despite media reports, rubber bullets were not used by our officers or allied agencies on scene.”
Authorities also went on to clarify that the initial protest/march went off well.
“We want to emphasize that the actions of a few people did not define this otherwise peaceful demonstration. We are thankful to everyone who came out and let their voices be heard. It’s a good start of what we hope will be ongoing dialogue between our department and our community.”
Police Chief Scott Heller added that there were no further incidents reported Wednesday night or Thursday in connection with the rally. There have also been unconfirmed reports that another gathering has been scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
“Our department is aware of a possible protest tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon at the Gene Bianchi Community Center that’s being discussed on social media platforms. While we continue to monitor the event details, we believe this will be a peaceful demonstration,” Heller said. “We encourage everyone to continue business as usual. Our officers have been meeting with business owners located near the community center today. We understand your concerns, and we are committed to providing a safe environment. Because of the unpredictable nature of recent protests, officers will be on site and are prepared for any change of events. We will ensure a safe space and are ready to act quickly if needed.”