Some police officers support George Floyd protesters by taking a knee, marching
As tensions escalated between police and protesters throughout the nation, some members of law enforcement showed solidarity with demonstrators by kneeling alongside them and participating in marches over the weekend.
The acts came as tensions boiled over in dozens of U.S. cities following the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died in police custody. Several demonstrations have devolved into chaos, with police firing tear gas on protesters and some individuals smashing storefronts and setting buildings ablaze.
Amid this backdrop, officers in states such as New York, Oregon, Iowa and Kentucky took knees while policing ongoing demonstrations, in acts that replicated the protest started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Law enforcement leaders in Michigan and Virginia also participated in marches alongside protesters.
On Sunday, officers in Queens, N.Y., took a knee with a band of protesters who marched near their precinct. Video of the scene showed dozens of demonstrators cheering as a line of officers knelt alongside many of them. Aleeia Abraham, the leader of The BlaQue Resource Network and the individual who shot the video, told CNN that she’d never seen such a tribute from police.
The move to take a knee was replicated in Portland, Ore., and Lexington, Ky. In Portland, video shared by The Oregonian showed a protester urging a Portland police officer to show support for their cause by taking a knee. A subsequent clip showed a dozens of officers clad in riot gear kneeling as a crowd of protestors in front of them chanted, “George Floyd.”
(Part 2 of 2) pic.twitter.com/X8vGndptLZ
— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) May 31, 2020
A similar scene played out in Lexington, with several officers taking a knee after hearing chants of “kneel with us.”
POWERFUL. The Lexington Police just kneeled after the protesters asked them to kneel. pic.twitter.com/JZIVWuSpZx
— Alex Walker (@AlexWalkerTV) May 31, 2020
Officers in Des Moines, Iowa, Spokane, Wash., and Miami also took a knee while policing protests on Sunday. One video shared by The Des Moines Register showed two officers kneeling while praying that everyone remain safe during the demonstration.
In Washington, D.C., one officer took a knee while standing in front of line of protesters. A supervisor subsequently yanked him by his collar from the line, according to The Washington Post. The officer later returned and remained standing.
Two Des Moines police officers kneeled and said a prayer that everyone remained safe and left peacefully pic.twitter.com/pLSGHFJk1e
— DM Register Visuals (@RegisterVisuals) May 31, 2020
Spokane held a #BlackLivesMatter peaceful protest, we marched to the courthouse and were met with the police. We took a knee and asked them to do so as well, they refused at first but herd our voices and our pleas and finally took a knee in respect. We can and will make a change. pic.twitter.com/30wtO778BO
— Allison (@allison_manion) May 31, 2020
In Michigan, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson took off his helmet and asked demonstrators protesting outside Flint Township police headquarters what they’d like from the officers. After hearing chants of “walk with us,” Swanson replied, “let’s walk.”
“We want to be with y’all for real,” Swanson said, pointing to officers standing behind him. “I took my helmet off, they laid their batons down. I want to make this a parade, not a protest.”
Norfolk, Va., police Chief Larry Boone also joined demonstrators and held a “Black Lives Matter” sign during a march through the streets of the city, according to 13 News Now.
Floyd, 46, died last week shortly after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes while executing an arrest. Footage of the arrest showed the officer, Derek Chauvin, keeping his knee pinned to Floyd’s neck as Floyd repeatedly said “I cannot breathe.”
The actions of the officer, who has been fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, prompted intense outrage nationwide and calls for accountability from police. Abraham, the leader of The BlaQue Resource Network, said that the decisions from officers to take a knee was “a good sign.”
But she told CNN that “what we’re really looking for is action.”
“I’ll be even more impressed when we’re not stepped on and gunned down. That’s the moment I’m looking for,” she said.
In the days since Floyd’s death, several states and cities have instituted mandatory curfews to help mitigate the unrest. Some states have also deployed the National Guard to help control escalating protests.
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