Dozens of protesters rallied in Cathedral City’s Civic Center Thursday, many wearing masks and some hoisting signs saying “black lives matter” and ”end white silence” in response to the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Nicole Smith of La Quinta organized the demonstration, her third in three days following peaceful gatherings she organized in La Quinta and Rancho Mirage this week
As of 6:30 p.m., about two dozen demonstrators were braving the triple-digit heat, although Smith said she expected more demonstrators to arrive after the temperature started dropping. The protest is scheduled to continue until 9 p.m.
The 21-year-old said her goal was to promote peaceful protesting that unites with law enforcement, an aim that culminated in a photograph protesters took with five police officers including Cathedral City Police Department Chief George Crum near the iconic fountain.
“We want to get the message across that we can be one if we just stop racism, stop stereotyping and we stop seeing color,” Smith told City News Service. “Once we stop seeing color, everything will be OK.”
Crum spoke out on Thursday on the death of Floyd, who died May 25 when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while he was handcuffed and on the ground.
Crum in a statement said Floyd’s death was “shocking, disturbing, and of great concern to all of us in law enforcement.” He also called it preventable, and something that shouldn’t have happened.
“It is a sobering reminder of the significant and negative impact bad police behavior has on our Community and profession,” he wrote.
“Our officers, like others across the country are feeling the burden of this incident. Our officers see this as a betrayal of their commitment to fairness and the trust we work hard to earn.”
Thursday’s demonstration follows a week of similar efforts across the valley, including two organized by Smith — one in Rancho Mirage comprising 125 people on Wednesday, and a 60-person effort in La Quinta on Tuesday.
The week’s demonstrations began Monday morning in Palm Springs, where upwards of 50 protesters gathered on a downtown street corner. No problems were reported.
Later that day, several hundred protesters ventured into the middle of a street near Palm Desert City Hall, where they held a brief moment of silence while taking a knee in response to Floyd’s death.
The group marched toward the city’s upscale shopping district, where they were met by sheriff’s deputies clad in riot gear before turning back to the original protest location.
No violence was reported in the demonstration, which grew to about 500 people at its peak, although at least six people were arrested for violating the countywide curfew in place from Monday night to Tuesday morning, along with other crimes not related to protesting.
The death of Floyd, who was unarmed and unresisting, was caught in a viral video May 25 showing 44-year-old Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressing a knee on Floyd’s neck as he pleaded for air during an arrest.
As onlookers begged for the officer to back down, Chauvin continued pinning Floyd for nearly nine minutes until he became unresponsive, the video shows. Floyd had allegedly passed a counterfeit $20 bill.
Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest were fired and later arrested. Chauvin is facing a second-degree murder charge, and the three other officers at the scene were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Floyd’s death has triggered more than a week of unrest across the nation.
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