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The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department said eight people were arrested Saturday during a 10-hour “protest and standoff” that stemmed from an Eritrean “cultural event.” 

Clashes erupted between rival groups of Eritreans, and police confirmed that officers trying to disperse the unlawful crowds were attacked by people wielding sticks, rocks and other items. 

Crowds also set a tractor on fire in North Carolina’s largest city, and police seized a total of two firearms over the course of several hours. 

Fox News Digital reached out to the department Sunday seeking the identities and more information about those eight arrested. 

The incident first began shortly after 11:30 a.m. Saturday, when CMPD’s Providence Division responded to “an unlawful protest happening in the parking lot of a business hosting an Eritrean cultural event” on Monroe Road. “Protesters were on private property and were spilling out into the road, which prompted officers to close Monroe Road. Dispersal orders were repeatedly given to protesters throughout the duration of the protest, however they refused to disperse,” police said in a press release. “Charlotte Fire and MEDIC responded to assist.”

Shortly after 3:00 p.m., CMPD Bike Unit officers attempted to move protesters out of the street. 

“Several protesters threw objects and pushed back against the officers. Officers then deployed pepper spray,” the department confirmed. “Multiple protesters and officers were treated on scene for injuries related to the pepper spray.” 


Police said, during this time, a female protester struck an officer, and a firearm was seized from her person. 

Charlotte police respond to Eritrean riot

Charlotte police officers responded to a protest at an Eritrean cultural event. (Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department)

She was charged with inciting to riot, failure to disperse, injury to personal property and assault on a government official. 

The charges for all eight suspects included impeding traffic and failure to disperse.

Shortly after 6:30 p.m., dispersal orders were given again as protesters began blocking the entrance to the private business hosting the cultural event, police said. 

The CMPD’s Civil Emergency Unit was deployed to disperse the crowds shortly after 7:20 p.m.

“The officers were met with violence and hostility, with protesters throwing objects,” the department said in its initial press release. “Over the course of several hours, the CEU gave multiple dispersal orders in English and Spanish and were again met with violence from protesters wielding sticks, rocks and other items.”

“Protesters then intentionally set fire to a nearby tractor trailer. The Charlotte Fire Department quickly extinguished the fire and contained the scene,” police said. “Shortly before 9 p.m., officers assisted with allowing the cultural event attendees to leave the scene. Protesters remained on scene initially but dispersed a short time later.”

Eritrea unrest in the Netherlands

Eritreans set fires in The Hague, The Netherlands, Saturday night.  (Reuters/Instagram@Sterkbusiness)

As the incident unfolded, the police department provided regular updates on X. 


One post illustrated how the Eritrean cultural event was being protested by a rival group, but more information was not immediately available. “The people attending the event that was being protested have ended their event and left the scene. Protesters remain on scene and still have not dispersed,” CMPD wrote at the time. 

The North Carolina unrest happened the same day rioting broke out between two rival groups of Eritreans in the Netherlands on Saturday night. 

Police said officers there used tear gas in an attempt to quell the unrest in The Hague as rioters torched police cars and a bus. 

Images from the scene showed vehicles in flames and dozens of men in the street, some throwing rocks.

Protesters at The Hague

Rival Eritreans set fires in the streets of The Hague, Netherlands, on Saturday. (Reuters/Instagram@Sterkbusiness)

The Hague Municipality spokesman Robin Middel said a group loyal to Eritrea’s government was holding a meeting when the venue was attacked by Eritreans who oppose the African nation’s government. Police spokeswoman Kristianne van Blanken said she could not immediately say if anybody was injured or if any rioters were arrested.

The fighting is the latest outbreak of violence at Eritrean events in Europe.

Dozens of people, including at least 26 police officers, were injured during unrest surrounding an Eritrean cultural festival in the southwestern German city of Stuttgart in September 2023. A fight the same month between Eritrean government supporters and opponents in Tel Aviv led to violent street confrontations among African asylum-seekers and migrants.

Months earlier, a clash at an Eritrean festival in the western German city of Giessen left 22 police officers injured.


Tens of thousands of people have fled Eritrea for Europe, many alleging they were mistreated by the repressive government of President Isaias Afwerki. The conflicts underscore deep divisions among members of the Eritrean diaspora between those who remain close to the government and those who have fled to live in exile and strongly oppose Afwerki.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Danielle Wallace is a reporter for Fox News Digital covering politics, crime, police and more. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @danimwallace. 

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