TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) ─ Hundreds of people gathered in Taunton Thursday afternoon to demand justice for George Floyd, who died last week while in police custody.
Protesters held signs supporting Black Lives Matter and calling for an end to police brutality while chanting “I can’t breathe,” which is what Floyd repeatedly said while his neck was pinned underneath the knee of a Minneapolis officer.
Floyd’s death, which was caught on video, has sparked outrage across the country. While most demonstrations have remained peaceful, others have devolved into violence and looting, including ones in both Boston and Providence.
“The most important message that needs to be sent is that Black Lives Matter and that police brutality is wrong and that systemic racism needs to be changed in America,” protester Magno Nogueira said. “Living while black is not a crime and we should not be punished for that. We should not die at the hands of the police.”
The violence has left many businesses weary, including ones in Taunton, many of which boarded up their storefronts ahead of the demonstration as a precaution.
Protester Kayla Lucas said she understands the reasoning behind business owners wanting to protect their livelihoods, but believes that everyone who attended the demonstration was there “for a genuinely good cause.”
After hours of peacefully protesting, demonstrators were able to convince two Taunton police officers to take a knee with them in solidarity. Once this happened, many protesters shouted “we can go home!” and shook hands with the officers.