Louisiana protesters call for Lafayette mayor-president to resign after police shooting
LAFAYETTE, La. — Nearly 200 protesters gathered Sunday evening for the second night in Lafayette, this time in front of City Hall to criticize Mayor-President Josh Guillory's response to a Black man killed by police.
The peaceful demonstration in front of City Hall led to a group from there leaving to join others along a parkway, where they blocked traffic near a mall for over an hour.
Other groups traveled to other parts of the city later Sunday, including an intersection where Lafayette Parish Sheriff's deputies in riot gear dispersed the crowd.
Later Sunday night, a smaller group of a couple of dozen protesters returned to the Shell gas station where police shot and killed 31-year-old Trayford Pellerin on Friday.
The Sunday protest began at City Hall with speakers criticizing Guillory's response to Pellerin's death and calling for Guillory's resignation.
Lafayette police killed Pellerin Friday night after officers approached him at a gas station. Officers responding to a disturbance call about a man carrying a knife shot Pellerin after they tasered him and he continued to walk away from them.
When the protest began outside City Hall, activist Jamal Taylor and other speakers called on Guillory to resign immediately. Guillory, who has defended the shooting saying Pellerin was "threatening," was not in attendance.
"We are calling today for the mayor-president to resign immediately," he told the crowd. "When he will not resign because he's arrogant, we have decided to establish a team of people to look at recalling him from office. We will not tolerate lackluster leadership from a failed politician who ran for office three times."
Criticism of Guillory began earlier this month when he called for the closing of four recreation centers that serviced predominately Black communities.
Herb Green, a Lafayette activist, called for more police accountability.
"If the police is not policing themselves, were going to have more of what we've just seen," he said. "This is not a Kumbaya moment. You need to be enraged because one day it could be you."
Sunday's protest comes after family and community members gathered for a vigil Saturday night at the Shell station on Northeast Evangeline Thruway where Pellerin was shot.
'He had a big heart':Family mourns Trayford Pellerin after Lafayette police shooting
After the Saturday vigil, marchers took to the street, shutting down the southbound lanes of the roadway, and eventually marching to the police precinct, where they were met by law enforcement in riot gear.
The Lafayette chapter of the NAACP called for the Sunday night protest after Guillory released a statement that said Pellerin was a threat before he was shot. The mayor and other local leaders held a press conference at the Lafayette Police Department late Saturday night, but barred NAACP leaders from entering.
Marja Broussard, the local NAACP president, repeated her calls Sunday for Guillory to resign. She cited his failure to offer condolences for the Pellerin family and his defense Saturday of the police shooting as the latest in actions that have hurt the African American community.
"He released a statement that convicted that young man. And the verdict is death," she said, referring to Pellerin.
"The family is grieving right now. We need to wrap our arms around that family and help them get through this,” Broussard said.
About 100 protesters marched and blocked traffic for nearly an hour, chanting and holding signs.
Lafayette Police initially gave protesters space and kept motorists from entering the area.
At least one person was arrested when he threw a water bottle at a truck. Protester Brittany Jones said she saw the truck, driven by a white man, coming toward the group.
“That man was coming from down the street full speed,” she said. “He almost hit a crowd of people.”
Police in riot gear arrived at the scene on Ambassador at about 7:30 p.m. After about 15 minutes, protesters cleared the road and headed to a nearby parking lot. Police and protesters stayed about a half-mile away from each other during that interaction.
Police remained in the road, but traffic was allowed to pass.
A group of several dozen marchers showed up in River Ranch, but deputies in riot gear lined up across Camellia and pushed back the crowd that had locked arms.
From there, some marchers went to the Shell station where Pellerin was killed, although they didn't attempt to block the thruway. Police were monitoring nearby, but did not confront the group. Most of the protesters left the area after 10 p.m.