Peaceful protests spark in Columbia following death of George Floyd

Protests went on for over an hour outside of the Boone County Courthouse.
Protester KateLynn Ketsenburg wears her mask with the phrase "I can't breathe".

Columbia citizens peacefully marched along Walnut St. and throughout the city Friday afternoon in protest of the police-involved murder of George Floyd.

The protest began outside the Boone County Courthouse at 4 p.m., with multiple speakers addressing the crowd with a megaphone.

Columbia local Marcus Ferguson Jr., one of the speakers, said the fight for justice is a fight for everyone.

“Man, being on the right side of history and injustice is everyone’s place,” Ferguson Jr. said. “Being on the right side of history and inside of justice movements is the right place for everybody.”

Charity Martin, another speaker at the protest, spoke on police officers’ role in current events.

“I’m not prejudiced. I’m prejudiced to ignorance,” Martin said.

Martin challenged police officers to speak out on the incident, saying that they “are worse than [the bad ones] are if [they] let it go.”

Ferguson Jr. later voiced his anger about the events that occurred in Minnesota involving the death of Floyd. Floyd was pinned down by officers on Monday, specifically officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

“There is no way that you should have been able to watch that video with a clear conscience and say ‘Oh, I’m good,’” Ferguson Jr. said. “Everyone should have walked away from that video disturbed from what they saw. Everyone should have walked about from that video with some type of fire and say ‘something’s got to change’ at this point.”

Protesters used other mediums to voice their opinions, from displaying the names of victims on American flags to writing on masks and posters.

Protest attendee KateLynn Ketsenburg wore a mask with the phrase ‘I can’t breathe’. She said she took the idea for the mask from the phrase that Floyd had echoed while pinned down, as well as a common comment from people who are unable to wear masks because they may hinder breathing.

Calls-to-action varied across the board, some protesters called to tenure police officers and others advocated for completely rebuilding the judicial system.

Martin specifically called out leaders in Columbia during an interview to take a stand.

“We have leaders here in this community, and we need to stand consistently,” Martin said. “Not pick and choose when you want to, it’s happening every single day. There’s been too much police brutality, too many deaths, the whole nine. They just shake it off, sweep it under [the rug] and justify it.”

Martin also expressed concern for the next generation of youth that are currently growing up having to watch these events and killings play out.

“I just pray for my nieces and nephews because they’re our tomorrow,” Martin said.

Edited by Lucy Caile | lcaile@themaneater.com

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