More than one thousand people hit the streets of Plattsburgh Saturday afternoon, to protest police brutality and racial discrimination, as well as to call upon officials in the Lake City for change. About 1,500 people marched in solidarity, protesting the apparent killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police Officer.
People from everyday citizens, to even Lake City Mayor, Colin Read. “This is truly a community event, they are not arguing with City Hall over this, they are working in solidarity with City Hall on this. I think that our community needs to stand together when we see injustice. They have that saying, injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere, and just because it did not occur here, does not mean we do not need to seriously reflect on all of this.”
Although police brutality has not been a huge issue in the City of Plattsburgh, Mayor Read recognizes the City can do better. “We need to strengthen and do more ongoing de-escalation training, and incorporating that into the academy. Use of force really needs to be the absolute last resort, and never the first thing that we do.”
The event was expected to draw about 800 people, but event organizer Brent Ellis, says he is surprised more protesters than that showed up. “I do not think anyone was really anticipating the response that it got but looking at other protests across the North Country that have got a huge turnout, were thrilled with it.”
Although policy changes may be down the road, Ellis is happy to get the conversation started. “It is going to start a lot of conversations and everybody in the area will have their minds on it now, so I think it will be really easy to get momentum from here and to go forward with that.”
Protesters marched to the Police Station, where they knelt and held a moment of silence for nine minutes. Former Minneapolis Cop, Derek Chauvin, is accused of kneeling on George Floyd’s neck on memorial day for about that same length of time.
Everyone was invited to air grievances and ask questions of both Police Chief Levi Ritter, and the Mayor.
“We have not been confrontational about this, we respect peoples’ right to assemble, and to protest. And they have from the very start expressed that they wanted this to be peaceful,” says Chief Ritter.