Protesters arrested in confrontation with Laramie police

Laramie police handcuff an unidentified protester after arresting him for blocking traffic on Grand Avenue. The protester was one of seven arrested Thursday after blocking roads in Laramie. Police had warned the protesters that they would be cited for obstructing a roadway if they left sidewalks to walk or sit on roads. The arrests were the first made since protesters began staging demonstrations against police violence and racism almost daily since June 7. (Photo by Ethan Sterenfeld, Laramie Boomerang)

LARAMIE — Arrests were made and citations were written Thursday as protesters against police violence and racism clashed with Laramie law enforcement.

Seven arrests were made and five citations written Thursday, Laramie Police Department Lt. Gwen Smith wrote in an email. She did not have information about the charges available by press time Thursday. 

It was the largest police presence at a protest since the nearly daily demonstrations began June 2 in Laramie. While the protests were initially confined to sidewalks, protesters starting on June 7 spilled into the street blocking busy roadways as they peacefully demonstrated.

The Laramie Police Department on Thursday afternoon released a statement notifying protesters that for the first time, they planned to write citations for anyone obstructing a roadway, indicating a warning would be given first.

“Beginning today, demonstrators are placed on notice that if they enter the roadway illegally, either to walk or to sit, they will be subject to citations for violation of Laramie Municipal Code,” the statement reads. “Warnings will initially be provided if people illegally enter the roadway and if they do not comply with that legal direction, they will be issued citations. If they fail to provide police with their names, they may face additional charges.”

Protesters gathered around 5 p.m. at First Street Plaza. When the march began about 15 minutes later, most occupied the Grand Avenue roadway walking east. Police began gathering around the Albany County Courthouse as protesters advanced and eventually blocked the roadway with LPD officers between Sixth and Seventh streets, forcing protesters onto the south sidewalk.

The LPD was assisted by the Wyoming Highway Patrol throughout Thursday’s march.

Tensions rose as police began taking protesters to the south sidewalk, one was carried by police, in front of the courthouse where at least one was cuffed and led away. Several others were written citations.

After stopping for a few minutes to confront police writing citations, protesters continued marching east until police cuffed and detained another protester near Ninth Street and Grand, drawing more anger from demonstrators. The march continued to 15th Street, then turned around back west toward First Street Plaza again. At least one more protester was detained in the westward route near 11th Street.

When regrouped at the plaza, organizers indicated that they planned to march again on Friday.

Thursday’s demonstrations followed Tuesday night’s Laramie City Council work session, where more than a dozen spoke during public comment in frustration with the council and the city’s police. Protester organizers on Wednesday indicated during a march that they were not happy with the work session and planned to continue fighting for their policy goals.

The LPD’s Thursday statement mentioned the protesters on Wednesday blocking the Third Street and Grand Avenue intersection, saying the department received multiple complaints about the obstructed roadway.