BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Hundreds gathered in downtown Baton Rouge Sunday, May 31, to march toward the Louisiana State Capitol in objection to the excessive use of force by members of law enforcement, particularly during interactions with black Americans and communities of color.
Teenagers from the Baton Rouge area organized and promoted the march using social media.
Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome prayed with those gathered before marching began. Other city and state officials spoke with individual participants about concerns in their communities.
Participants carried signs with various messages which conveyed they would not tolerate law enforcement brutality or forget those who have lost their lives while in custody.
Chants of “no justice, no peace” and the names of individuals killed while in police custody rang through downtown.
On the steps of the capitol, organizers took turns speaking from a megaphone.
“We can not be silent anymore. Silence is death,” one organizer said.
Other organizers read a list of requests for city, state, and federal officials.
That list included a televised town hall with officials to discuss an agenda aimed at providing additional resources to disenfranchised communities in Baton Rouge.
It also included calls for the indictment of officers involved in the death of George Floyd.
Floyd was being detained in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25 after a store clerk allegedly suspected he was using a counterfeit $20 bill to make a purchase and alerted law enforcement, officials said.
During that arrest, an officer was filmed pinning Floyd to the ground by pressing his knee onto Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
The video shows Floyd say “I can’t breathe,” “I’m about to die,” “Don’t kill me,” and note to responding officers that “everything hurts.”
Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The officer filmed with his knee on Floyd’s neck was fired and later charged. Three other officers were also fired in connection with the killing.
Floyd’s death inspired marches in most major cities, and confrontations with officers where tear gas and rubber bullets have been used.
Looters have used the marches for cover to vandalize stores and set fires to buildings.
The march in Baton Rouge did not escalate to that point, with organizers strongly discouraging violence beforehand and members of several area law enforcement agencies choosing not to interfere with the gathering outside of assisting by blocking streets for the marchers.
Other officials in Louisiana have weighed in on Floyd’s killing and the unrest it has caused.
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