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Police enforce curfew after Saturday protest

The march began on Main Street, traveled to the State House and then the Columbia Police Headquarters.
Credit: Alicia Neaves/WTX

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The (I Can't Breathe) March, South Carolina March for Black Lives, began Saturday morning on Main Street and made it's way to the police station Saturday afternoon to protest the death of George Floyd. 

By late afternoon, the scene turned to chaos with police vehicles set on fire, police officers and protesters injured and vandalism throughout the area.

Keep up with all of the latest updates here.

Shots fired downtown

After 11 p.m., Richland County deputies reported they were looking for three suspects after shots were fired in the direction of deputies in downtown Columbia Saturday evening. 

Authorities tell News 19 that deputies were near the corner of Gervais and Assembly streets Saturday evening, when shots were fired in their direction. 

RELATED: Search underway for three suspects after shots fired downtown

Vista restaurant owner speaks out

Among the businesses damaged in the Vista Saturday was the Blue Marlin, a longtime Columbia favorite and staple of the Vista. Ryan Dukes, one of the family owners of the restaurant, spoke with J.R. Berry Saturday evening. 

While Dukes is disappointed in how things turned out on Saturday, he said he believes in peaceful protesting and he believes in this community. The restaurant is taking Sunday off to allow employees to rest and regroup but Dukes says "We'll be back strong on Monday."   

RELATED: 'We wont let this knock us down,' Blue Marlin owner reacts to damage from protesters 

Scene under control

By 9:35 p.m. the scene at Columbia Police Headquarters seemed to be well under control. 

What is believed to be tear gas was shot at protesters after they were told to leave because of the curfew.

Businesses in the Vista have been broken into over the course of the evening, including Blue Marlin on Lincoln Street. 

The City of Columbia released the ordinance. Boundaries of Sumter St, Pendleton St, Huger St and Elmwood Ave requires all individuals to return to their residences and remain off all common areas.

Effective immediately, COMET will be shutting down the transit system. They are offering vouchers for Lyft and Uber.

The University of South Carolina Student Government released a statement to the student body. "It is not enough to be non-racist, we must be unequivocally anti-racist," the post reads.

It is not enough to be non-racist, we must be unequivocally anti-racist. *** An open letter from the UofSC Student Government Executive Officers.

City Officials Speak Out

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, City of Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook, City Manager Teresa Wilson, Mayor Steve Benjamin spoke speak at a press conference Saturday evening.

City officials began the press conference by saying that they encourage peaceful protesting. Anything else, however, would not be tolerated. 

"When protests go from being peaceful to being violent, the conversation changes," Mayor Steve Benjamin said. 

Mayor Benjamin urged people to go home, saying the breaking of city and federal laws will not be tolerated.

"What's happening right now cannot and will not be tolerated in this city." 

Benjamin also went on to say that the city curfew, in effect for the coronavirus pandemic, has been changed to 6 p.m. effective immediately until Monday at 6 a.m..  He said anyone in violation of city ordinances and will be arrested. 

Benjamin said to anyone who does not live here, "take your asses home." 

According to Cheif Holbrook, he has law enforcement officers are in the hospital, one with serious injuries.

Live Coverage Columbia 'I Can't Breathe' March

LIVE COVERAGE: We are live in downtown Columbia where the 'I Can't Breathe' March has reached Columbia Police Headquarters.

Posted by WLTX News19 on Saturday, May 30, 2020

"I  just know we are better than that. It's gonna stop, it's gonna stop right now." 

Leon Lott said he walked with the group earlier this morning and saw no issues. Then he said the 'good people' left and those who remained are those outside now. 

"All they were here for was destruction," Lott said.  

Chief Holbrook said there have been multiple arrests, and confirmed that there were shots fired earlier in the day. He also urged people to go home. 

"People need to go home, now. Right now." 

Scene Grows Chaotic

Protesters are seen throwing bricks, breaking windows of police cars in the city after the march. There was also at least one police vehicle that was set on fire.

During the protest, protesters took down the American; state and city flag in front of the Police Department. 

According to the Columbia Police Department, shots were fired. The department says it was not law enforcement. 

The South Carolina Highway Patrol is providing assistance to the Columbia Police Department.

A woman was seen being taken away in an ambulance by Justice Square in downtown.

March Underway

Speakers included State and City Leaders, Black Lives Matter Activist, Community Leaders, NAACP leaders, and more, according to the organizing group. 

The march began on Main Street in front of City Hall, made it's way to the State House, and eventually to the Columbia Police Department Headquarters on Washington Street. 

LIVE: Protesters have marched to the police station, where items started being thrown:

Posted by WLTX News19 on Saturday, May 30, 2020

The (I Can't Breathe) March, South Carolina March for Black Lives, began Saturday morning on Main Street and made it's way to the police station Saturday afternoon to protest the death of George Floyd. 

The march comes after George Floyd's death in Minnesota, and joins other marches and protests around the country to show solidarity.