SPRINGFIELD, Ore.-- Several videos shared on social media from a conflict between Springfield police and Black Lives Matter protesters Wednesday night depict what appears to be police hitting protesters, stirring controversy.
The conflict began at a barricade, which the Springfield Police Department said was erected to prevent protesters from marching on dangerous roads. According to police, they began arresting people after protesters started trying to move past the barricade.
Organizers have denied that allegation and accused police of acting unprovoked.
In videos of the tense standoff at the barricade, police are depicted apparently hitting protesters, dragging some past the barricade as they are arrested.
Former Black Unity organizer and Black Lives Matter supporter Isiah Wagoner questioned if the violence was justified given that reports of what happened at the barricade are contentious and there was no reported destruction of property.
"There were a couple of quarrels maybe, heated exchanges. Nothing was ever destroyed. So where's your evidence that these attacks on our people that you were supposed to be protecting -- where's the evidence for what you were doing in the streets?" he said.
Springfield Police told KEZI 9 News Thursday afternoon that they had just learned about the videos and were looking into it.
Meanwhile, Oregon State Senator James Manning Jr. said that he wants a thorough investigation into the incident. Manning said that he was disturbed by the videos he saw. He also believes that the criminals behind the riot in Eugene Saturday night are to blame for rising tensions between protesters and law enforcement, and have diluted the BLM message.
"Get back our message," he said. "I would encourage the organizers to separate themselves from the criminal element and distractors."
Wagoner agrees that the actions of rioters do not represent the BLM movement but said people of color are bearing the consequences for them regardless.
"I'm tired of hearing 'Black Lives Matter' from the voices of these people who would go and deface property in the name of us, and sit at home on their couches while our peaceful protesters who say 'Black Lives Matter,' as in our lives, and we get beat to the ground," he said.