A peaceful march in response to George Floyd’s death is planned for Monday afternoon from Dansbury Park in East Stroudsburg to Courthouse Square in Stroudsburg.
Video shows Floyd, a black man, saying "I can’t breathe" as a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneels on his neck for about nine minutes on May 25. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The footage "really brought me to tears" said Caseem Johnson, an East Stroudsburg resident who took the lead in organizing the march.
The video showed "another black man being killed," but this incident of police brutality was the one that sparked in Johnson a need to take action, like it has for so many across the country.
"There’s no ‘but’ in this video," Johnson said in explaining the nationwide reaction to Floyd’s death. Sometimes people "try to say ‘but maybe this’ or ‘you don’t know the full story.’"
There’s no room for that here: "You see the guy, he does nothing wrong. And then I think the most powerful part about it, what hurt the most, is that when the cop’s knee was on George Floyd’s neck, is that his hands are in his pocket."
That indicates, "You don’t even feel threatened," Johnson said of Chauvin.
Johnson began gauging interested in a march on social media, and "Everyone said yes. Like, it wasn’t one person that said no."
He spoke with police at a vigil Sunday in Stroudsburg’s Courthouse Square, explaining he wanted them to be part of the march rather than watching it on "high alert," and they agreed.
They will be marching with us. Not detaining us. Use this as a time to COMMUNICATE ask those questions you wanted to ask etc. https://t.co/iUw1ACzqZW pic.twitter.com/tIKO6QlX4j— Senju Seem (@LoveLiveSeem) May 31, 2020
Johnson is emphasizing that marchers shouldn’t engage with anyone who shows up to "antagonize" the event and disagree with the cause.
He’ll have friends acting as "marshals" or leaders who can "make sure that the crowd just keeps walking, you keep saying your chant, you know, hold your signs higher. Just do not engage with any negativity."
The event will conclude with speakers outside the courthouse.
Protests in some cities have turned into clashes between police and protesters. The National Guard has been activated in Pennsylvania, and cities including Philadelphia, where businesses were looted and cars were set on fire, imposed curfews over the weekend.
Johnson’s vision is to keep the Monroe County protest peaceful.
The purpose, he said, is to "show that everyone can stand together, that we can get our message across in a positive way, without anybody getting hurt, without any stores burning down, anything like that. We can be heard, and as long as we stand together that our message will be delivered."