Officials say some protesters angry over the acquittal of a police officer charged in the deaths of two unarmed suspects became violent and turned on bystanders, including some who pepper-sprayed patrons sitting at outdoor cafes downtown.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams says 71 people were arrested Saturday night after a day of mostly peaceful protests turned more aggressive.
Williams said Sunday at a news conference with Mayor Frank Jackson that another protester threw a restaurant sign at a patron, striking him in the head. He says bystanders were also accosted in at least one other instance.
Jackson thanked the majority of protesters who remained respectful. He says the police will continue to help demonstrators exercise their First Amendment rights but warned the city will not tolerate any protesters who cross the line into violence.
Protesters gathered in downtown Cleveland and west side neighborhoods after the acquittal of 31-year-old patrolman Michael Brelo.
A judge said in his written verdict delivered to a packed courtroom Saturday that Brelo's actions in the November 2012 shootings were justified because he believed that someone in the car containing Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams fired shots at police at the beginning, middle and end of the chase. Brelo remains on an unpaid suspension while officials consider administrative charges against him.
The city of Cleveland earlier agreed to pay the families of Russell and Williams a total of $3 million to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit.