WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - What started off as a peaceful protest in Worcester in response to the death of George Floyd turned violent as tensions escalated on Monday night.

Officers fired flashbangs into the crowd as some demonstrators grew unruly and began throwing objects.

The back window of one police cruiser was smashed.

As the crowd broke apart, a sporting goods store was looted and the glass front door was shattered.

“You can’t blame the actions of a few to the many, like a lot of people assembled and it was really great and then you just have a few that don’t know how to channel the aggression,” the store’s owner said.

Ahmad Ghannoum, who owns a tailoring business, says his store was also damaged.

“I was freaked out. I almost have a heart attack,” he said. “You know, what did they get out of this? That’s not fair. We all with the black people. We all support each other. We love this country. They shouldn’t do this to us.”

Earlier in the day, thousands of people peacefully protested through the streets of the city, calling for racial justice.

“We need equality, equality, like real equality,” protester Dustin Bonezz said. “Somebody break the law, everybody got to adhere to that law, like, you know, not just you can do something because they black or, you know, not do something to somebody because they white.”

The Worcester police chief had joined the crowd by kneeling with protesters.

Protester Nate Nelson said that was a big action but more needs to be done.

“So that’s a big thing; with that being said, there should be change happening,” he added. “I said, ‘I’m going to call you out. You got to talk to your team.’”

The rally was organized by a city councilor and a local group called Amplify Black Voices.

This came one day after peaceful protests took a violent turn in Boston, leaving several officers injured and many businesses and police cruisers damaged. More than 50 people were arrested as a result of the destructive night.

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