Cumberland County District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck has decided not to pursue charges against 32 people who were arrested during Black Lives Matter protests in Portland in early June.

Portland police arrested 22 people during a protest near the police department’s headquarters on June 1 and another 10 the next night.

Police said they were pelted with rocks, bricks and bottles during the protests. The 32 were charged with failure to disperse, a misdemeanor.

Sahrbeck said Friday that police had probable cause to arrest the protesters for failing to disperse, but said there was insufficient evidence to charge any with more serious crimes related to the alleged rock, brick and bottle throwing.

The DA also said that the arrests achieved the objective of dispersing a disorderly crowd from a main road in Portland and that “it would be unfair and unjust to treat all members of a group as perpetrators of a certain act based solely on their associations.”

Messages left for two of the people who were arrested during the protests were not returned Friday night.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Portland for the June 1-2 protests that came in response to the killing of George Floyd, the 46-year-old Minneapolis man who died in police custody when an officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes.

Floyd’s death ignited protests across the country and in Maine against systemic racism and police use of force against people of color. Like in most protests around the country, the demonstrations in Portland started out peacefully, but became more chaotic as darkness fell. Both nights, there was a push and pull between organizers who sought to keep the demonstrations peaceful, and people who threw water bottles and other objects at police, destroyed property and defaced businesses.

On June 1, protesters amassed outside the Portland police station in a confrontation that moved around the downtown area and lasted until nearly 2 a.m. Officers from 15 other police departments joined Portland police and stood shoulder-to-shoulder carrying wooden batons and plastic riot shields.

Police said demonstrators threw rocks, bottles, bricks and urine at police, and several trash cans were set on fire.

The protests have led to a heightened awareness in Maine and around the country of the institutional injustices people of color face, as well as an examination of police policies on the use of force and calls to take funding from police departments and devote it to social services.

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