PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) — Col. Hugh Clements of the Providence Police Department said Tuesday that an officer suffered minor injuries after being struck in the head by either a bottle or a firework during a rally that was supposed to be in support of an injured scooter driver.
Commissioner Steven Pare said a K-9 was also hit but was expected to be OK. The officer was treated by the fire department at the scene.
Pare told NBC 10 News 19 people were arrested, including a juvenile.
He said bricks, bottles, and fireworks were all thrown at police, adding that protesters were very aggressive toward police.
Police moved in on a crowd of protesters who gathered at the public safety complex after several rounds of fireworks were set off.
"Well, you know, at some point while they were stationed out here in front there were hundreds. They began to throw rocks, bricks, some bottles at the police. Several police officers got hit. One got hit while he had his helmet on, it appears with a brick. Thank God all of the Providence police officers -- none are seriously injured," Clements said.
Wearing riot gear and helmets, Providence police officers blocked off part of Dean Street in front of the police department, keeping traffic and protesters back. That's when fireworks in bottle went off, sending people running.
Rhode Island State Police also assisted Providence police by closing part of John J. Partington Way in front of the safety complex.
Some people told NBC 10 they were frustrated by the way protesters blocked streets. Others, pulled up a chair and watched.
"It's pretty crazy. I understand some of the reasons why they’re protesting and it's a big thing. It's pretty crazy," said Jesse Whitsell of Coventry.
NBC 10's Gene Valicenti tweeted that the Cranston Police Department blocked several bikers from entering the city after the rally.
Earlier Tuesday, hundreds of people gathered outside the Knight Memorial Library on Elmwood Avenue in support of 24-year-old Jhamal Gonsalves, a scooter driver who was injured in a crash involving a city police officer over the weekend. About two hours later, the group marched to the public safety complex.
Organizers said their intent Tuesday night was to have a peaceful demonstration in support of Gonsalves.
Gonsalves' father, Mark, told NBC 10's Tyler Dumont: "I don't want my son’s name behind the rioting that started just now. That is not justice for Jhamal."
Protesters shouted, "Justice for Jhamal," which they said would be the immediate firing of the officer involved in the crash and an independent investigation.
Many of Gonsalves' friends and family attended the rally.
"We come out, we support and we know that Jhamal would be happy that we’re out here," said Orlando Rangel, who's Gonsalves' cousin.
"In the end, the health and well-being of Jhamal come first, and justice will be served," added Paul Gonsalves, who's a cousin of the 24-year-old.
Providence police said two pieces of video will be released at Wednesday's press conference, but they have not concluded whether the cruiser hit the moped.
Gonsalves' family told NBC 10 he remains in a coma at the hospital.