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Protesters flood the streets of Charlottesville in honor of George Floyd

Updated: May. 30, 2020 at 4:16 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Protesters in Charlottesville showed their support for George Floyd during a rally in front of the city’s police department Saturday afternoon. People of all races and all ages filled the streets with their chants, signs, and frustrations.

“It’s sickening that we have to have these types of demonstrations in order to get a point across,” Activist Don Gathers said. "This is a incredible show of solidarity, brothers and sisters who have been traumatized.”

A large crowd could be seen in front of CPD around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 30. People across the country are taking part in #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd, a Minneapolis man who died earlier this week following being handcuffed and detained by several police officers.

Video footage of Floyd’s arrest Monday, May 25, shows a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes and ignored his “I can’t breathe” pleas. The black man died later that day. Four officers were fired Tuesday, and on Friday, Officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Protesters moved away from the Charlottesville Police Department after about a half hour, marching down Market Street.

“Just the mere fact that we have to do this in 2020 is astonishing to me and should be astonishing to everyone,” Gathers said. “Emotions are all over the place right now."

Gathers added that enough is enough: “We’re demanding recognition. We’re demanding to be treated as equals, and as human beings,” he said.

Although the turmoil in Minneapolis is more than a thousand miles away, both Gathers and City Councilor Lloyd Snook admit that there are still underlying problems in Charlottesville.

“It’s a continuous plethora of things that continue to go on in this community directly that need to be addressed,” Gathers said.

Snook and Gathers point out that Charlottesville has much work to do: "The first thing that we’re going to do is get the Police Civilian Review Board (CRB) up and functioning,” Snook said.

“Putting some real teeth into Civilian Review Board, and getting behind there is just as important as anything in light of the recent situations that are going on,” Gathers added.

The coronavirus pandemic got in the way of the CRB process, as it eliminated the option of in-person meetings. However, Snook expects it will start back up soon.

“The government in Charlottesville understands and wants to be a part of the change," the councilor said. "We’re not trying to oppose change, we’re trying to embrace it.”

In order to see words turn into action, Gathers and other protesters demand the release of nonviolent offenders from the Albemarle Regional Jail, and requests that police dig into the minority report more.

Gathers says they also want to see, “equal and equitable policing of all communities in this area, not just the minority communities.”

The one thing he hopes the Charlottesville police take away from the demonstration is, “don’t discount our blackness, because I’m black doesn’t mean I have a target on my back. I’m still a human being.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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