A group of protestors used rapper Kendrick Lamar’s single “Alright” as a rallying cry in a protest against police near Cleveland State University as it hosted a Black Lives Matter conference.
A video of the incident on Sunday shows the crowd in Cleveland chanting the lyrics: “We gon’ be alright.”
Tensions heightened after a 14-year-old boy was taken into custody for allegedly being drunk on a bus. Witnesses claimed police used pepper spray on the crowd.
Witness Blake Piffin uploaded the “Alright” chant to YouTube on Tuesday.
He wrote: “Today after the ending of the convening as everyone was walking down the street CPD arrested a 14 yr old. While everyone was demanding his release an officer pepper sprayed the crowd and further escalated the situation. In unity and solidarity everyone was demanding that he be released, and we stayed and protested until they released him!”
Officials of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority released a statement about the incident:
At 4:40 p.m. today, July 26, Transit Police officers on routine patrol peacefully removed a intoxicated 14-year old male from a bus. Police said the juvenile was intoxicated to the point where he was unable to care for himself.
Police escorted the youth from the bus to a bus shelter on Euclid Avenue at East 24th Street.
Transit Police followed normal procedure, which is -- after police collect pertinent information, juveniles are transported to police headquarters to await release to a parent or legal guardian.
Within minutes, a large crowd had gathered. For the safety of the juvenile, Transit Police moved him from the open shelter area into a police cruiser. The crowd then surrounded the car, and attempted to remove the juvenile from the car. By this time, several other law enforcement agencies had also responded.
The crowd kept the police car from leaving the area. A Transit Police officer used a general burst of pepper spray in an attempt to push back the crowd, to no avail.
The juvenile was escorted from the police cruiser to a waiting EMS unit to be examined at the scene. He was then released to the custody of his mother at 5:47 p.m. The incident is under investigation.
“Alright,” which is featured on Lamar’s latest album, To Pimp A Butterfly, contains the lyrics: “My knees getting’ weak and my gun might blow but we gon’ be alright.”
Lamar has dealt with discrimination in his lyrics and talked about the death of Trayvon Martin in one single, "Blacker the Berry". He also urged people to love each other in another song, "Complexion".
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