PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Thousands attended a mainly peaceful protest in Providence Saturday afternoon, calling for justice for George Floyd, a black man killed by police in Minnesota on Monday.
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The rally, organized by Black Lives Matter Rhode Island, started at Burnside Park in Kennedy Plaza and moved to the steps of the State House where “No Justice, No Peace” was later spray-painted in black on the white marble.
“Everyone is fed up,” said Paula Quigley, who attended the rally. “Not just black people. These are human beings.”
Nationwide outrage has been fueled by a viral video showing former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinning Floyd down with his knee at Floyd’s neck until Floyd was unconscious. Floyd later died. Chauvin has since been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers in the video have not been charged.
“It’s got to stop,” said Brother Gary Danztler, one of the organizers of Saturday’s event in Providence. “I’m sick to my stomach. We step back into time, we aren’t moving forward now.”
In some places, protests have turned violent. In Boston, 10 people were arrested following a clash with police Friday night. Two officers were shot in Oakland, California. One of them later died.
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Providence’s rally was mostly peaceful.
“I’m glad we are not looting and burning anything down,” Danztler said. “I’m upset. I’m angry. But we are going to do it different here in Rhode Island. You know leadership is so important. When they see us, I want them to understand this was a peaceful rally because it’s a reflection of who we are as people.”
Earlier this week, Eyewitness News talked to local community leaders about Floyd’s death and resulting protests, locally and across the country.
Pastor Sherrod Jones of Judah Multicultural Church in Providence, hopes the rallies remain peaceful.
“People are upset, angry, hurt. It feel likes there is no sense of hope for the black community at all,” he said. “We can’t be heard when we are burning down buildings and looting.”
Ahead of his arrest, Chauvin was fired along with the three other Minnesota officers who were on scene.
Note: Black Lives Matter Rhode Island is not affiliated with the Black Lives Matter national organization.