CARBONDALE, IL — The Carbondale Police Department says officers helped around 30 demonstrators marching through the city as a part of a planned protest on Sunday.
Around 7:30 p.m., officers say a witness in the area of the protest reported to an assisting officer that one of the demonstrators had spray painted a private property retaining wall in the 500 block of South University Avenue. The witness provided a video of the vandalism.
The Carbondale Police Department says, following the protests, officers found the vandalism suspect around 8:30 p.m. in the 400 block of South Washington Street. The police department says a 20-year-old suspect from North Carolina, whose legal surname is Bruefach was arrested.
The police department claims the individual resisted arrest, and three people who were a part of a larger group approached the officers during the arrest. The department says one officer sprayed pepper spray in the direction of those three people when they refused to back up after the officer asked them to. One of the members of the larger group then used a flag pole to strike the police vehicle the suspect was being held in, police claim.
Police say officers took the 20 year old who was arrested to the Carbondale Police Department and issued notices to appear in court on Carbondale City Ordinance violations of criminal damage to property and resisting a peace officer. The person was released with pending court dates.
Officers say there were no injuries reported and the police vehicle that was struck was not damaged. They say additional graffiti was reported after this incident, but investigators do not know if the graffiti was from any of the demonstrators who were at the protest. Officers say this is still actively being investigated.
The Carbondale Police Department referred to the suspect who was arrested as a man and identified the individual under their legal first and last name.
In a news release sent Monday evening, a local LGBTQ youth center released a statement about the incident, saying that the person who was arrested is a transgender woman. In the release, the Rainbow Café LGBTQ Center says "the Carbondale Police Department initially misgendered and deadnamed the woman." Deadnaming is a term for the practice of using a transgender person's birth name without their consent.
Tara Bell with Rainbow Cafe tells Local 6 the woman goes by the name Cat. "As many transgender individuals deal with a multitude of obstacles that prevent easy access to legal name change, it is most respectful to her identity at this time to simply use 'Cat,'" Bell says in an email to Local 6.
In the statement, the center's board of directors also writes that they "are dismayed that after our event commemorating the Stonewall Uprising of 1969, a trans woman suffered this experience at the hands of the police, and other individuals from the LGBTQ community were pepper sprayed."
Local 6 has reached out to the Carbondale Police Department asking about the statement, but we have not yet heard back.
To read the Rainbow Cafe's full, two-page statement, download the document below this story.
The Carbondale Police Department is asking anyone with information about the incident to call the department at 618-457-3200.