ORLANDO, Fla. – More than 2,000 people joined a large demonstration Tuesday in Orlando calling for change after the death of a black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer.
Protesters filled the streets of downtown near City Hall before the gathering headed toward Orange Blossom Trail. Drivers honked in support and the momentum of the movement continued to gain velocity before the 3 p.m. event even officially began.
The gathering was organized to demand justice for George Floyd, who died in police custody after an officer was recorded placing his knee on his neck for more than eight minutes, until Floyd went unconscious and later died. The officer was fired and arrested but protests across the country indicate that was not enough to quell the racial injustice felt by many.
Before marching on, attendees heard from local organizers and other community members, including State Attorney Candidate Monique Worrell, Orange County Black Caucus President Dawn Curtis, former Orange County Black Caucus President Russell Drake and others.
For more than an hour, protesters voiced their demands while Orlando police looked on surrounding City Hall with a bicycle barricade.
3:30 p.m. UPDATE: Crowd outside Orlando City Hall for protest. pic.twitter.com/cMByvg4IU2— Clay LePard (@ClayLePardNews6) June 2, 2020
Kristi King was one the organizers.
“We have the attention now, the riots and the protests have given us attention. So how are we going to use it? Are we going to use it in a constructive way or are we going to give them an excuse to add to the stereotype?” King said.
Orlando police closed down South Street at Orange Avenue and then State Road 408 as thousands of people carrying signs walked on.
In a tweet, the Orlando Police Department said it “is committed to supporting the rights of citizens to peacefully demonstrate, while protecting residents & businesses.”
“We appreciate everyone that participated peacefully. Unfortunately, a few remaining participants threw rocks and bottles at officers, so we had to deploy smoke and eventually tear gas after continued aggression,” Orlando Police said in a statement.
Police said one officer was struck, but he will be OK.
Check back for updates.