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EXCLUSIVE: 14-year-old and sisters among protesters arrested in Uptown Columbus

Updated: Jun. 1, 2020 at 8:43 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A Columbus teen and his sisters were among those arrested in this weekend’s protests.

Penelope Cleveland of Columbus said she was so upset when she learned her 14-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter along with an 18-year-old, whom she calls her second daughter, were arrested Sunday evening in Uptown Columbus while peacefully protesting.

Cleveland explained that they were all eating outside at Picasso Pizzeria on Broadway. At the time, protesters were demonstrating at the RiverCenter.

She said after initially telling the children “no” to protesting, she changed her mind when the demonstration moved closer to where they were located. Cleveland could see there was no violence, no properties being damaged, and with beefed up patrols. She felt they would be safe.

After leaving the pizza parlor, they joined the group and headed to 13th Street, then to Veterans Parkway to buy water at the Liberty gas station. And that’s when they say the calm turned to chaos.

“They grabbed him and put him in handcuffs and as a parent, I was so upset," added Cleveland.

Jordan, 14, explained what the ordeal was like for him. “When they see my face, a police quickly grabbed me by my arms, cuffed the handcuffs tight on my wrist,” he said. Jordan added he’s now scared of the cops.

Another protester in the police cruiser with him tried to calm him down and alerted police he was a minor. Trying to find her children, his mom FaceTimed her son’s phone. She said a police officer answered his phone and told her to pick him up at the police department.

Jordan said he was never taken inside the jail, but he had to stay in the back of a hot police car parked at in parking lot of the police department for about two hours before he was released to his mom without having to post bail.

His sisters, Mikia, 18, and MaKayla, a 19-year-old college student at Plymouth State in New Hampshire, said they were not being disruptive when officers threw the handcuffs on them and was given no explanation as to why they were being detained.

“Well first they took us to jail and then they took us to the police department and had us waiting there for hours," explained Mikia. “When I say hours, I mean hours, sweating. We literally had to beg her [officer] to put on the air while we were dying of heat."

“When we got arrested and stuff, a few of the officers were talking and a few of these officers were like, wow, these charges are equivalent to someone running a red light. So, that’s when I was like, I’m not going to spend the night in jail,” added Makayla.

The family described it as a parade of police cars in that parking lot with protesters being detained in the vehicles.

Their mother bailed them out of jail for a total of $735, but she said she only had enough money to get one child out. Some generous people seeing her on someone’s Facbook Live just started showing up at the jail to give her money to get both of her children out of jail.

Cleveland, born and raised in Columbus, said she recently moved back here from Tampa and when people came to her rescue, she quickly regained faith in the hometown she dearly loves.