Police Driver Appears to Give BLM Protesters the Finger Outside Presidential Debate

The driver of a police van passing a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters was caught apparently giving the middle finger to those gathered for the event in Ohio.

Social justice demonstrators gathered with placards and banners along the streets in University Circle ahead of the presidential debate on Tuesday.

Footage from the event captured two vehicles driving past, marked as belonging to the city of Shaker Heights and carrying up to a dozen armed officers.

The officers are accompanied by a darkened police van where the driver can allegedly be seen holding his middle finger out the window in footage and still images obtained by Cleveland.com.

Newsweek has contacted Shaker Heights Police for comment.

The vehicles turned from East Boulevard onto Hazel Drive along the road leading up to Wade Oval where hundreds gathered in a non-violent protest calling for an end to police brutality.

"Why are you in riot gear? I don't see no riot here," the crowd can be heard chanting as the vehicles pass by.

As the vehicles pass by, the officer's outstretched arm can be clearly seen through the window.

At least 500 gathered and marched on Cleveland's East Side ahead of the first presidential debate, according to local reports.

Those from the BLM march circled around the cordoned off areas near the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion of the Health Education Campus.

Multiple different groups called for justice and the ousting of President Donald Trump.

After gathering at the Wade Oval, the crowd marched up Martin Luther King Drive and around the Cleveland Museum of Art before returning down East Blvd to call it a night before the debate kicked off at 9 p.m.

The area was lined with state troopers and Ohio National Guard vehicles.

BLM has gained global attention for its association with racial justice protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

Trump told a "Blacks for Trump" rally in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday that the Black Lives Matter movement is part of a "mob rule" that is "destroying many Black lives."

On September 8, Trump suggested that BLM activists are "anarchists, not protesters" and referred to them as "thugs" on Twitter.

Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden faced off in a heated debate live from Cleveland, Ohio, Tuesday night.

At one point Biden called Trump a "clown," with Trump hitting back saying, "There is nothing smart about you."

Cleveland Police getting in position along Carnegie Avenue not far from debate site. pic.twitter.com/Ws8HGDe0G8

— Peter Krouse (@PeterKrouse) September 29, 2020
Riot police Black Lives Matter
Riot police drive by Black Lives Matter supporters outside the debate center during the first presidential debate at in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020 Megan Jelinger/AFP
BLM protests
A woman holds a loudspeaker as a crowd of BLM protesters march through the streets during the first presidential debate Megan Jelinger/AFP
BLM Protesters
Protesters gather in Wade Park ahead of the debate. Seth Herald/Getty