More than 1,000 protest death of George Floyd for second consecutive day in York
The yells of more than 1,000 protesters echoed throughout downtown York City for the second consecutive day on Tuesday, calling for justice and reform a week after a black man died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
The protesters in Continental Square, standing under a banner that read "Racism is not tolerated here," were rowdy but peaceful, while in other cities authorities struggled to curb violence, looting and destruction.
Tuesday's protest came eight days after video surfaced of a Minnesota police officer restraining George Floyd with his knee pinned against Floyd's neck for several minutes. Floyd was pronounced dead shortly afterward.
"We are here because we've had enough," said Arlette Morales, one of the event's organizers. "We've had enough. And I'm tired of innocent black men and women getting killed for simply being black."
Although Tuesday's protest remained peaceful, the day before, a woman was injured in a fight after she tried to drive through the crowd in front of the York County Judicial Center on North George Street.
Monday's protest began in Penn Park, and the group stopped at multiple locations, including on the steps of the city police department on West King Street.
The protesters then moved to Continental Square, where they blocked off the intersection at George and Market streets. Shortly afterward, they walked down the street to the York County Judicial Center.
"No justice, no peace. Prosecute the police," protesters shouted.
Protesters supposedly were prohibited from standing on the judicial center's steps, but there was no police interference.
In fact, there was a notably small police presence for Monday's and Tuesday's protest.
"Our job is to give them a platform," said Philip Given, York City's acting director of community and economic development.
Some cities, such as Philadelphia, have set curfews in response to the protests that have taken a much more violent turn.
President Donald Trump on Monday said he would deploy the U.S. military if cities and states couldn't keep order.
As for the sole act of violence that occurred during the two protests, police spokesperson Derek Hartman said the woman went to the police station to file a police report. No other information was available, he said.
However, multiple bystanders told The York Dispatch that the woman initially tried to drive a car through the protesters blocking North George Street on Monday.
The woman then got out of the car and a fight ensured, they said. The woman was seen with a bloody nose, and the car's rear windshield had been shattered.
Floyd's death has further escalated tensions in the U.S., a nation beleaguered by the coronavirus pandemic and mass unemployment and in the midst of presidential primary elections.
Four police officers who were at the scene have been fired, and Derek Chauvin, the officer who pinned Floyd, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
An autopsy commissioned by Floyd's family found that asphyxia and loss of blood flow caused his death, The New York Times reported Wednesday afternoon.
The incident in Minneapolis immediately spawned comparisons to others throughout the country in recent years where a police response resulted in the death of a person of color.
Perhaps most prominently, people have cited Eric Garner, who in 2014 died after being choked by New York City Police when he was confronted for selling single cigarettes.
The York County Chiefs of Police Association condemned the Minneapolis officers' conduct in a letter Monday, saying what they did "is not a part of the training curriculum of the police departments in York County.”
“There is simply no room in Law Enforcement for officers who commit such heinous acts, and for officers who fail to intervene and stop the commission of those acts," wrote President Tim Damon.
York City Mayor Michael Helfrich, who himself had a friend die in city police custody in 2002, last week also encouraged residents to record all interactions with police to hold them accountable.
York City residents have scheduled a third protest at 5 p.m. Friday in Continental Square.
In addition, on Thursday, YWCA York will hold a virtual vigil from 8 to 9 p.m.
— Logan Hullinger can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.