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Local News

Lurry protest moves into Jefferson Street, arrests made

Demonstrators took over sections of Jefferson Street on Sunday, and at least two were arrested when they marched into the street for a third time in a protest over the death of Eric Lurry.

The protest at the corner of Jefferson and Larkin Avenue included confrontations and questions between members of the Lurry family, including his widow Nicole, and Police Chief Al Roechner over an investigation into Lurry's death.

A half-hour into the protest, which started at 4 p.m., the demonstrators marched into the intersection blocking traffic for 10 to 15 minutes.

Police on the scene followed them into the intersection and basically controlled traffic before persuading protesters to move back to the sidewalk where the demonstration started.

"These are our streets," one protester shouted as they were slow to move out of the intersection.

"You can march on public property," another called out.

"You cannot block the street," one officer said as police urged protesters to move. "We're here to help you and make sure you stay safe."

Protesters later marched on the sidewalk along Jefferson Street before moving into a right lane and taking it over on their return to the intersection.

Police did not interfere but came out on a second march along the street.

According to one account, police moved in when the march took up both lanes of westbound traffic.

Ernest Crim, a Joliet high school teacher, said police appeared to target two people for arrest who were marching along with others. Crim said police appeared to arrest one man because he talked back to them.

"He started yelling out, 'I'm not going anywhere. You can arrest me,'" Crim said, and that's when he was arrested.

"We weren't causing a disturbance," Crim said.

Police did not confirm how many people were arrested and on what charges.

But two people were taken into custody at the parking lot of the BP gas station at Jefferson and Hammes Avenue.

One man was brought in from Jefferson Street, and the other was arrested when he confronted police as the man was being put into a police van.

About a dozen police came to the BP parking lot as both they and protesters began to gather while the man from the Jefferson Street march was being placed into custody.

A man who earlier in the demonstration identified himself as Stringer Harris and described himself as an activist for Nicole Lurry, confronted police as they formed a line between the protesters and the the gas pumps at the station.

Harris approached one officer up close and shouted at others, although it was unclear exactly what happened before he was arrested.

There was a standoff between about 20 police and maybe 40 protesters at the BP station as police told them to leave.

"You are being given a lawful order to leave the property," one officer shouted. "We don't want to arrest people."

Protesters backed off but lingered for about 10 minutes.

"Never buy gas here again," Suzanna Ibarra, chairwoman of Will County Progressives shouted. "They (expletive) won't allow us on their property."

The protesters eventually dispersed with no other arrests made at the BP.

The scene at the BP seemed to mark the end of the rally, Several people returned to the corner of Jefferson and Larkin to continue the protest. But most began to head for their cars or lingered in groups talking.

Nicole Lurry said she appreciated the turnout.

"I just think it's great that people are coming out to help me get justice for my husband," Lurry said. "I think what they're doing is awesome."

Lurry died Jan. 29 after being arrested the day before at what police said was the scene of a drug deal.

An investigation by the Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force has concluded Lurry died from ingesting a combination of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl that police said he had concealed in his mouth during the course of the arrest.

His family and protesters say he died because of his treatment by police who are depicted in a squad car video pinching his nose and probing his mouth with a baton before pulling out plastic bags that police said contained the drugs.

Several members of the Lurry family questioned Roechner about the video at the protest, including Nicole Lurry.

"From that video, you're saying everything they (police) did is right," Lurry said to Roechner at one point.

"I didn't say that. You're putting words in my mouth," Roechner replied.

Roechner also talked with Stringer Harris about an hour before he was arrested and said he supports release of the fuller police video not yet made public.

"That's what they're not getting," Harris said, "is transparency."

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