About 100 protesters gathered at the old Tarrant County Courthouse downtown Thursday night, calling for the firing of a white Fort Worth police officer who arrested a black woman in an incident that went viral late Wednesday.
“I want this officer fired,” said Dominique Alexander, the leader of the Next Generation Action Network, which organized the protest. “I don’t want him to have the opportunity to resign. I don’t want him on paid administrative leave.”
The officer, whose name has not been released, was placed on “restrictive duty,” Fort Worth police said in a statement Thursday.
On Wednesday, he arrested Jacqueline Craig, who had called police to report that a man had assaulted her 7-year-old son for littering.
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Relatives said that a man in their southwest Fort Worth neighborhood had grabbed the boy by the neck in an attempt to get him to pick up the trash.
After the officer arrived at the home in the 7400 block of Rock Garden Trail the situation quickly escalated, with women screaming profanities at the officer, who eventually handcuffed and arrested Craig and two daughters, Brea Hymond, 19, and Jacques Craig, 15.
A video of the incident, which was streamed live on Facebook, picked up more than 1.9 million views by Thursday night.
Craig — who was released from jail Thursday, along with her daughters — attended the protest at the courthouse, standing on the top steps with her family.
At one point, the protesters began arguing among themselves over who was going to speak next, prompting Craig and her family to leave in tears.
But mostly, the crowd’s emotion focused on Fort Worth police.
They frequently shouted, “No justice! No peace!” They held signs that read, “Stop the hate,” and “Help me, not arrest me.”
“They just want to protect and serve each other!” one man yelled over the crowd.
Craig’s attorney, Lee Merritt, spoke briefly, telling the protesters, “Stay on fire until things change.”
Police presence wasn’t heavy during the protest — one officer stood nearby, while about 10 bicycle officers were stationed in a plaza across the street.
Cory Hughes, another NGAN organizer, said Craig’s arrest was blatantly racist.
“We know that if that had been a black man grabbing the throat of a white boy,” Hughes said, “he’d be in jail right now.”
Alexander, the NGAN leader, said he was confident that Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald would “do the right thing” and fire the officer.
“If he don’t do the right thing,” Alexander said, “I’m going to be at his doorstep.”