RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said Sunday morning that the violence and looting overnight downtown was "disgusting and unacceptable."
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, who held a news conference with Deck-Brown in the aftermath, said she has been in contact with Gov. Roy Cooper and is asking for a state of emergency, which could allow for a curfew if needed.
"Last night was both heartbreaking and devastating," Baldwin said. "In all my years, I've never quite seen anything like this."
Deck-Brown condemned the actions by looters and agitators who overshadowed peaceful protests calling for change.
"The actions of the violent, lawless crowd that damaged our city and attacked officers and assaulted officers last night was disgusting and unacceptable," Deck-Brown said "These actions tarnish the message of those who peacefully demonstrated."
The mayor also noted the divide between those who gathered to protest the death of George Floyd and the ongoing tension between police and black people, and those who used fervent emotions and mob mentality as an opportunity to loot and destroy.
"What took place were two very different experiences," Baldwin said. "One, hundreds of people coming together in the late afternoon to have their voices heard in peaceful and respectful ways. It was the way protests in our city have always happened. Second, there was a group of people who came in the dark of night who had no intention of protesting peacefully. Instead, their goal was destruction, theft and violence."
Deck-Brown praised the professionalism and restraint shown by police officers, saying that their actions helped prevent additional destruction and violence.
"It was not until after the crowd began to throw bottles and rocks at officers that the Raleigh Police Department escalated their response," Deck-Brown said. "And while I hear and I understand the frustration felt in our community and throughout the country, destroying our city is not the answer."
She noted that five police officers were hospitalized last night but have since been released. The chief said 12 arrests were made overnight and "there will be more to follow."
Deck-Brown said police are investigating numerous crimes that were committed Saturday night.
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Saying "destroying our city is never the answer," Deck-Brown said that "we will continue to work tirelessly to identify and prosecute those who made the choice to behave in such a lawless manner."
The violent acts left Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh temporarily closed at both ends--including intersecting side streets from Salisbury Street to Wilmington Street--to facilitate clean up.