GALVESTON — Led by community activist Quanell X, a group of young people arrested during Galveston’s Mardi Gras celebration protested outside the city’s municipal court Wednesday, accusing police of using excessive force to clear the streets of revelers.
Galveston police used canisters of pepper spray to disperse a crowd gathered on The Strand at the end of the night’s Mardi Gras festivities early Sunday and arrested 19 people.
Police Chief Henry Porretto said officers used the canisters after a group of people attempted to block the street with metal barriers and began throwing bottles and rocks at police. He said officers responded appropriately to the situation.
Quanell X said many of those arrested Sunday were beaten and kicked by officers.
“I believe absolutely the Galveston Police Department used excessive force,” he said. “These children are not thugs, and they are not gang members. Police created a riot-like atmosphere.”
One man, who police said was a known gang member, was arrested and charged with participating in a riot and resisting arrest. Others were charged with public intoxication and interference with the duties of a public servant.
Many of the 19 people arrested at the tail end of the Mardi Gras celebration are due back in municipal court on March 20, when Quanell X said he plans to hold another protest.