CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The death of a Minnesota man at the hands of a police officer has sparked national outrage with protests erupting across the country. A protest is planned in Cleveland this weekend.
Black Lives Matter Cleveland organized the protest and its set for 2 p.m. Saturday. It will be held downtown at the free stamp. At last check of the Facebook event, with a little over 1,700 people said they are going, with over 4,000 interested.
“We feel your pain,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin D. Williams. “As an African American person who has lived in this city almost all my life and given almost 35 years to law enforcement I stand on both sides of this issue, as a man of color and a police officer who cares about this city and the people in it. So, we just want to make sure people understand that we feel you and we want to make sure everyone is safe.”
The moments leading up to George Floyd’s death were all captured on camera. Floyd is seen handcuffed, face down on the ground, crying that he can't breathe as a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck.
“We know people have a right to be angry and they have a right to be upset based on what we know and a right to demonstrate that anger and upsetness through protests and demonstrations,” said Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. “We are here to protect their rights in terms of protesting, but at the same time we are here to protect the rights of the public and that means violence and destruction of property will not be tolerated.”
Black Lives Matter Cleveland organized a protest to get justice for George Floyd Saturday afternoon. While many of these protests have started out peaceful, some turned violent. In Minneapolis, protesters set fire to a police station and the national guard was deployed. On Friday morning in Columbus protesters damaged Ohio’s state house; breaking windows and doors.
“Our officers are highly trained and highly professional in dealing with protest activity,” said Chief Williams. “I can’t tell you everything that’s gonna happen tomorrow, most of it depends on the protesters themselves and the people that demonstrate, but we are prepared for anything and everything and we’re gonna do our best to keep everybody safe.”
The police chief also wanted to remind protesters that we are still in a pandemic. So, if you plan to come out to the protest Saturday you are encouraged to practice social distancing and wear a mask.