On August 5, 2020, at approximately 2:00 pm, a group of about 25-30 people gathered at Penn Square for a demonstration. Prior to the event, members of the Lancaster City Bureau of Police made contact with the organizers and provided them with guidance to exercise their First Amendment Rights, while remaining in compliance with the law. This included adhering to State and Local laws, to include not blocking public passageways and roadways. The demonstration included a march with several stops throughout the downtown area, all of which appeared to remain in compliance with the law. There was no police interference in the demonstration or march and the last stop occurred in the 1st block of W. Chestnut Street, at a state government official’s office across from the Lancaster City Police Station. A City Police supervisor was in communication with the participants of the demonstration and advised several individuals to keep the street clear for their own safety and passing motorists.
At approximately 4:05 pm, an adult female moved out into the street, while holding a sign and began impeding traffic on W. Chestnut Street. She stood in the lane, causing traffic to have to divert around her and then sat down in the middle of the traffic lane and remained there, while being asked to move out of the street by a police officer. Numerous warnings were issued and the female remained non-compliant and continued to block the street. The female was then taken into custody by Lancaster City Police officers without incident and was taken into the City Police Station. Officers issued additional warnings to the remaining members of the demonstration to not block the street. Within a few minutes, another adult female sat down in the same area as the first and began blocking the street again, causing traffic to back up and vehicles to have to divert around her. She was warned to not block the street several times and refused to move. She was then taken into custody by officers without incident and brought to the City Police Station. A third subject, an adult male, repeatedly blocked the street, standing in the middle of the traffic lanes and causing traffic to back up to Prince Street. This male was also advised numerous times to not block the street and refused to comply. He was taken into custody without incident and brought to the City Police Station.
All three subjects are being held for processing and are being charged with Obstructing Highways and Other Public Passageways, which is a Misdemeanor of the third degree. The Lancaster City Bureau of Police remains committed to ensuring the safety of all people, including our residents, visitors, pedestrians and motorists. We continue to ask those groups and individuals who choose to conduct demonstrations and protests in the City to do so peacefully and in a lawful and respectful manner. Blocking the street or other public passageways puts people’s safety at risk and creates unnecessary hazards for motorists and members of the community.