Charleston protester arrested on Sunday disputes charge

VIDEO: Charleston protester arrested on Sunday disputes charge

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A man who was arrested during the protest downtown Charleston Sunday says he doesn’t believe his arrest or others’ arrests were justified.

Ryan Tobin was one of the hundreds of people downtown Charleston Sunday protesting racial injustice.

“All my friends are different races. And it’s honestly frustrating to see how they’re mistreated," he said. "What’s been happening with police brutality across the country for some time now? I wanted to come show my support.”

They were near Meeting Street when he says police starting lining up opposite protesters.

"They ordered us to step back, which I did," he said. "Three police officers came up trying to push me from the back telling me to hurry up. I told them, 'You don't have to put your hands on me. I'm walking, I'm complying to every command you've given.' [The officers] said, 'Should we get him? Yeah, let's get him.' They grabbed me. I had my belongings in my hands they threw on the ground."

Tobin said, "I wasn't read my Miranda rights. I was placed in a transport vehicle. Brought to jail. I never got my phone call."

He said it didn't cross his mind he might get arrested that day.

“Not at all, no," he said."I had no intention of anything getting violent.”

We asked Charleston Police Department spokesperson for more information and they provided an incident report detailing the arrests.

Tobin is one of 40 suspects listed on the police report from Sunday.

The report states, “In order to prevent the civil disturbance from escalating further, officers ordered the unauthorized crowd to disperse from the area... Despite these orders, numerous subjects chose to remain in the area and continued to cause a disturbance.... which constituted a dangerous breach of the peace.”

Most were charged with disobeying a lawful order.

Tobin says he was not disobeying police orders.

“No ma’am. I was not," he said."I strongly disagree with that... And my arrest was crap to be quite frank.”

“All of this coming in the context of COVID-19, a time when we need to do everything possible to reduce the number of people in our prisons and in our jails,” said Frank Knaack, the executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina.

"The law enforcement response to a protest about police violence was to engage in police violence, so I think that is deeply disturbing," said Knaack.

Knaack sent this letter to local law enforcement demanding answers about the force used and why nonviolent protesters were charged.

"We think it's appropriate and necessary for law enforcement leaders to apologize to the community for what they did on Sunday and what officers did in their names."

In response to the ACLU letter, the Charleston County Sheriff's Office released this statement Wednesday:

“The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office respects the rights of all citizens to peacefully assemble and protest. Deputies will use the reasonable amount of force necessary to safeguard the lives and property of all citizens. That force is used on individuals who act unlawfully or choose to cause harm or damage to law abiding citizens. The Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center continues to practice COVID-19 protocols. There are currently no active COVID-19 cases for inmates or employees at the Detention Center. The current inmate population is 849.”

Tobin plans to plead not guilty and file a complaint.

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