ROCKFORD – Nine people were arrested Friday during a protest outside City Market Pavilion.
Like in previous demonstrations outside the market, protesters blocked traffic in both directions as a heavy police presence made its way onto East State Street near Water Street. That’s where marchers were circling the intersection, sounding sirens and chanting through bullhorns as N.W.A’s “F–k the Police” played through a portable amplifier.
The Rockford Police Department, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office and Rockford Park District Police were on scene, and after about 90 minutes, dozens of officers moved through the procession and began placing people in handcuffs. Some protesters struggled with police while others complied and went quietly.
Five women and four men were arrested, including local abolitionist Leslie Rolfe, who has organized more than a dozen protests throughout the city since May 30.
In a video shot by Scott Yates of the Rockford Register Star, Rolfe was can be heard saying he was being charged with mob action. He also claimed he was being jailed to keep him from Saturday’s “Back the Blue” rally at the Winnebago County Justice Center, an event he planned to protest.
“They’re trying to arrest me to make sure I’m not there for that,” a cuffed Rolfe said as officers led him north on Water Street toward an awaiting Rockford Police van. “I’m a political prisoner. Trust me. I’ve been prepared to get arrested.”
As of this report, Rolfe is on the Winnebago County Jail inmate roster but his specific charges are not listed. Initial booking information shows he’s being held for an alleged misdemeanor.
Rolfe announced on social media Thursday that this week’s protest scheduled protest would still happen even though City Market was canceled.
Rolfe vowed Wednesday to increase the intensity of future protests, ones he said will continue at the market and in front of Mayor Tom McNamara’s home and the homes of other local officials.
Rolfe’s vow to turn up future events came after McNamara and Police Chief Dan O’Shea announced that officers did not use excessive force May 30 when they arrested 10 people during a protest at Police District 1.
Rockford Advocate will have more on this story as it develops.