Demonstrators protest Saturday, June 6, 2020, near the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Demonstrators protest Saturday, June 6, 2020, near the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Black Lives Matter protests continue to march on peacefully in the US

By Steven Sloan, Justin Pritchard and Tom Foreman Jr. Time of article published Jun 7, 2020

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WASHINGTON — Massive protests against police brutality across the United States of America capped a week that began in chaos but ended with largely peaceful expressions that organizers hope will sustain their movement.

Tens of thousands of people marched Saturday with few reports of problems in scenes that were more often festive than tense.

Wearing masks and urging fundamental change, protesters gathered in dozens of places from coast to coast while mourners in North Carolina waited for hours to glimpse the golden coffin carrying the body of native son George Floyd, the black man whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police has galvanized the expanding movement.

The largest U.S. demonstration appeared to be in Washington, where protesters flooded streets closed to traffic. On a hot, humid day, they gathered at the Capitol, on the National Mall and in neighborhoods. Some turned intersections into dance floors. Tents offered snacks and water.

Pamela Reynolds said she came seeking greater police accountability.

“The laws are protecting them,” said the 37-year-old African American teacher. The changes she wants include a federal ban on police chokeholds and a requirement that officers wear body cameras.

At the White House, which was fortified with new fencing and extra security measures, chants and cheers were heard in waves.

Demonstrators protest Saturday, June 6, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. Picture: Alex Brandon/AP.
Couture designer Jared Lamar holds up a sign and is hugged by fellow protesters Shea Vasquez, left, and Carly Trabilcy during a demonstration Saturday, June 6, 2020, outside Los Angeles City Hall. The sign reads: "The color of my skin is not a weapon!!!" Picture: Damian Dovarganes/AP.
Demonstrators protest Saturday, June 6, 2020, near the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Picture: Maya Alleruzzo/AP
Demonstrators protest Saturday, June 6, 2020, near the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. Picture: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Elsewhere, the backdrops included some of the nation’s most famous landmarks. Peaceful marchers filed across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, where officers pulled back on enforcing a curfew that has led to confrontations. They walked the boulevards of Hollywood and a Nashville, Tennessee, street famous for country music-themed bars and restaurants.

Many wore masks — a reminder of the danger that the protests could exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus.

Roderick Sweeney, who is black, said the large turnout of white protesters waving signs that said “Black Lives Matter” in San Francisco sent a powerful message.

“We’ve had discussions in our family and among friends that nothing is going to change until our white brothers and sisters voice their opinion,” said Sweeney, 49.

A man speaks into a megaphone while standing with others on the center divider as traffic is stopped on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Saturday, June 6, 2020, at a protest over the death of George Floyd. Picture: Jeff Chiu/AP
A group of protesters take a knee while marching in lower Manhattan, Saturday, June 6, 2020, in New York. Picture: Craig Ruttle/AP
From left; Kiana Campbell, 24, walks with her daughter, Heaven Campbell, 6, and 2-year-old son King, along her partner KJ Sails, and USF football coach Jeff Scott during the unifying walk in memory of George Floyd and Martin Chambers, in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday, June 6, 2020. Picture: Octavio Jones/Tampa Bay Times via AP.
Protesters continue past Pike Place Market during the #SeattleJusticeForGeorgeFloyd march on Saturday, June 6, 2020, in Seattle, Washington. The death of George Floyd at the hands of police last month in Minneapolis has sparked nationwide protests for police reform. Picture: Amanda Snyder/The Seattle Times via AP.
Protesters march in protest of the death of George Floyd, Saturday, June 6, 2020, in Detroit. Picture: Nicole Hester/Mlive.com/Ann Arbor News via AP.
A demonstrator stands in front of Chicago Police officers during the March for Justice in honor of George Floyd Saturday, June 6, 2020, in Chicago. Demonstrators who gathered at Union Park marched through the city's West Side on Saturday afternoon, as the city prepared for another weekend of rallies. Picture: Nam Y. Huh/AP.

A large crowd of Seattle medical workers, many in lab coats and scrubs, marched to City Hall, holding signs reading, “Police violence and racism are a public health emergency” and “Nurses kneel with you, not on you” — a reference to how a white officer pressed his knee on Floyd's neck for several minutes.

Atop a parking garage in downtown Atlanta, a group of black college band alumni serenaded protesters with a tuba-heavy mix of tunes. Standing within earshot, business owner Leah Aforkor Quaye said it was her first time hitting the streets.

“This makes people so uncomfortable, but the only way things are happening is if we make people uncomfortable,” said Quaye, who is black.

In Raeford, North Carolina, a town near Floyd’s birthplace, people lined up outside a Free Will Baptist church, waiting to enter in small groups. At a private memorial service, mourners sang along with a choir. A large photo of Floyd and a portrait of him adorned with an angel’s wings and halo were displayed at the front of the chapel.

“It could have been me. It could have been my brother, my father, any of my friends who are black,” said Erik Carlos of nearby Fayetteville. “It made me feel very vulnerable at first.”

Floyd's body will go to Houston, where he lived before Minneapolis, for another memorial in the coming days.

Theresa Bland, 68, a retired teacher and real estate agent protesting at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, envisioned a broader agenda.

“I’m looking at affordable housing, political justice, prison reform,” she said.

Congressional Democrats are preparing a sweeping package of police reforms, which is expected to include changes to immunity provisions and creating a database of use-of-force incidents. Revamped training requirements are planned, too — among them, a ban on chokeholds.

The prospects of reforms clearing a divided Congress are unclear.

Back in North Carolina, the Rev. Christopher Stackhouse recounted the circumstances of Floyd's death for the congregation.

“It took 8 minutes and 46 seconds for him to die," Stackhouse said at the memorial service. "But it took 401 years to put the system in place so nothing would happen.”

AP

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