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Video shows fireworks exploding in car during Riverside protest

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Riverside police have arrested a man they say lit a firecracker and tossed it at protesters in Riverside this month, only to have the incendiary device thrown back into his nearby car and explode.

The June 1 protest against police violence and racism came days after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, sparking a movement of demonstrations across the country. On that day, an independent autopsy requested by Floyd’s family contradicted that of local officials to determine that asphyxiation due to neck and back compression led to Floyd’s death.

Police say the Riverside protesters acted peacefully until violence began later in the day. Officers fired tear gas and “rubber” bullets to disperse the crowd. A Thursday news release from the Riverside Police Department claimed that fireworks also exploded among officers and protesters.

A video of the incident shared by police begins with a sedan parked in an intersection. People appear to be arguing on both sides of the vehicle. The driver steps out of the car and places a lit firework mortar at the feet of two protesters, who run away.

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Other demonstrators rush toward the car, and one picks up the lit firecracker, tossing it into the sedan. A woman in the passenger seat jumps out, while another person in the back seat appears to be locked inside.

The car fills with white smoke and then a burst of light. Red and green sparks shoot in and out of the vehicle, and it begins to roll backward with the windshield wipers slowing swaying. As the video ends, a crowd descends on the car.

Police arrested Gabriel Castillo, 20, of Perris, whom they accuse of lighting the firework.

Authorities say that Castillo and onlookers assaulted the person who threw the firecracker into the car, but the released video, which cuts out after 24 seconds, does not show any attack.

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Castillo, who was arrested Tuesday during a probation search, is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.


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