A blank billboard on Clinton Street north of downtown Fort Wayne has the message, “FWPD tear gasses the Public” on May 30. The Fort Wayne Police Department used tear gas the previous evening on people protesting the death of a black man in Minneapolis.

The Fort Wayne Police Department tentatively plans a 10 a.m. May 30 news conference after officers used tear gas on protesters downtown the previous day.  

A statement from Mayor Tom Henry cited escalating aggression from protesters as the reason  that tear gas was used. Those gathered were protesting the Minneapolis death of a black man after a white police officer kneeled on his neck. Later video showed other officers also kneeling on the man’s neck.  All the officers involved have been fired from the force and one has been charged with murder in the incident. Protests in Minneapolis coincided with looting and arson. 

Both YLNI Barr Street market‘s and the Fort Wayne Farmers Market’s organizers canceled May 30‘s downtown markets citing safety reasons.

James Todoran Jr., co-owner if Coney Island on Main Street near the protest, said in a statement:

”Thank God my employees all got home safe and the Coney Island was spared from vandalism last night. However, many of our businesses weren’t so lucky. I really feel for our downtown neighbors. Many are still hurting from the economic effects of the pandemic and were forced to close early yesterday, not open today and repair their damaged property on top of that. I strongly support people who feel the need to protest, but violence and destruction of property only hurts the cause.”

Todoran said  his managers “felt that tensions were starting to climb“ and closed the restaurant an hour early.

Todoran said with another protest scheduled for 2 p.m., he planned to close his restaurant mid-afternoon.


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