More Than 1,000 At Peaceful Holyoke, Mass., Protest: 'George Can't Breathe. So We Scream!'
Protests continued in western Massachusetts on Tuesday in response to the brutal killing of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police. More than 1,000 protesters filled a full city block in front of Holyoke City Hall.
Organizers — all black and Latino — spent close to an hour instructing protesters on how to remain angry but orderly, explicitly saying they wanted no violence.
"George can’t breathe," they chanted, "so we scream!"
The city's police chief, Manny Febo, asked organizers if he could participate in the march to the police station. Febo donated a few boxes of masks to the effort.
Most demonstrators wore face-coverings, as COVID-19 concerns remain.
At one point the entire crowd kneeled, holding five minutes of sustained silence for black victims of police violence. Organizer Simbrit Paskins, a teacher at Holyoke High School, voiced a list of demands to the police department.
"We demand that all officers of the law hold their fellow officers accountable when violent police actions occur, by allowing for the installation of an independent citizens complaint review board for the Holyoke PD," Paskins said.
Volunteers distributed water and snacks throughout the event, which concluded without confrontation.
Amherst, Northampton and Springfield have also hosted protests in recent days.