By Don Dike-Anukam, Jeri Davis and Bob Conrad
NOTE: This article contains explicit language.
Three demonstrators were arrested Saturday evening for misdemeanor suspicion of obstructing and being a pedestrian in a roadway. The arrests came as a smaller group of militia and counter protesters were across the street taunting Black Lives Matter demonstrators near the capitol building in Carson City.
One participant said the BLM demonstrators, who were there in support of Breonna Taylor, were being singled out by numerous Carson City sheriff’s deputies, who were armed with paintball markers and are seen on video at times trying to be friendly with the crowd and at other points yelling at demonstrators.
“Police [were] getting agitated because BLM people [were] standing in a bike lane, looking to harass,” the witness said. The witness said armed counter protesters were ignored by deputies who “essentially condoned and encouraged their extremely rude and provocative behavior.”
“Several motor patrol deputies were riding up and down Carson Street to make sure the protestors were not causing a traffic hazard. As a deputy was traveling northbound on North Carson Street, he noticed several of the protestors standing off the curb in the street. The deputy approached them and asked them to get back onto the roadway for their safety, the booking report states.
“A number of the protestors did not listen to the request and began yelling at the officer, according to the report. The officer then stopped his motorcycle and walked up to the protestors, which caused them to yell louder. The deputy again asked them to please get back onto the curb for their safety or he would have to issue citations, the report states.”
Videos of the incident show deputies and Carson Sheriff Ken Furlong focused nearly entirely on the BLM protesters. At one point Furlong threatened to arrest an armed BLM protester if he touched one of the two guns he had.
“I’m going to tell you one thing,” Furlong admonished. “If you touch your gun, you will go to jail. Do you understand?”
“Yet they can have their fucking fingers on their trigger [of their gun]?!” a protester yelled in response. He was not arrested, however.
Another BLM protester was recently arrested because of negligent discharge of a firearm during a protest.
Carson City Sheriff Kenneth Furlong responds to arrests
According to Furlong, the three protesters were not arrested because they were in the bike lane. They were arrested, he said, because they refused to cooperate while being cited by officers.
No other protesters—among the 50 or so estimated by the sheriff’s office to have been walking in the bike lane—were cited because, according to Furlong, they all complied with police requests to get out of the bike lane and back onto the sidewalk or grass.
However, he said, “I don’t know that you can put all three [arrests] into the same bucket because all three were treated separately by separate officers.”
According to Furlong, Eric Nestingen was arrested after being in the roadway and would have received a citation but refused to provide identifying information and was charged with being in the road, obstructing traffic and refusing to give identifying information about himself to the officer who ultimately arrested him.
Furlong said Nestigen and the two others were arrested after protesters had twice been in the street and asked by officers to get back on the sidewalk.
“And the first time, all of the people complied to get out of the roadway…Yes, they were verbally abusive toward the officers—but they did comply,” Furlong said. “In between the two incidences, the demonstrators huddled, and then they all went out into the street. The street is determined by ‘off the curb.’”
According to Furlong, Nestingen refused to be cited—saying he was executing his First Amendment rights.
“He refused to answer questions,” Furlong said, “So in lieu of citation, he was arrested.”
Furlong said Ne’jae Jackson and her sister Engageante Jackson were also arrested after police attempted to give them citations for being in the roadway and obstructing traffic. Ne’jae Jackson was arrested, according to Furlong, after she walked away from the officer attempting to cite her and toward her sister.
Engageante Jackson’s arrest also came after protesters were asked to get out of the street, Furlong said. According to the arresting officer’s report, Engageante became confrontational with officers and began yelling at them when she was asked for her address and date of birth.
“Jackson was getting closer to the officer, yelling and screaming,” Furlong said. “He continued attempting to reason with her, pointing out the situation it was creating. She kept just getting more and more upset. At that time, the officers opted to handcuff her and take her into custody.”
The three were released several hours after their arrests. According to Furlong, Engageante Jackson was arrested shortly before 7 p.m. and was released at 12:41 a.m. All three were bailed out of the jail—according to Furlong—and all three have since checked in with the Carson City Department of Alternative Sentencing and are cooperating. They all have a court date set for 10 a.m. on Nov. 3.
Both women who were arrested said they were going to fight the charges.
“We were out there to make a statement and we weren’t just going to back up from the cops because they were giving us orders that weren’t even legal,” Ne’jae said after she was released. “We read the NRS code and we know what we can do in the bike lane.”
She said tensions were also escalated by the small group of armed militia who were across the street, including one man with a megaphone yelling encouragement to the deputies to arrest the BLM demonstrators.
“It started because the police felt empowered by the militia’s presence,” Ne’jae said. She added that as she and her sister were put into a vehicle a militia member signaled a thumbs up to the deputy, who returned it with a thumbs up of his own.
Both Ne’jae and Engageante Jackson regularly attend Carson City’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations.