A large, peaceful crowd including protesters and police officers marched from East Stroudsburg across the bridge to Courthouse Square in Stroudsburg on Monday, a week after George Floyd, a black man, died at the hands of Minneapolis police.
"I can’t breathe!" marchers chanted as they walked into Stroudsburg, referencing some of Floyd’s last words as a white police officer knelt on his neck for about nine minutes. That officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Chants of "I can’t breathe!" at the Stroudsburg end of the bridge pic.twitter.com/HU7FaMs0ZC— Kathryne Rubright (@kerubright) June 1, 2020
The incident in Minneapolis has sparked protests across the country, some of which have turned into clashes between police and protesters.
Wanting to avoid such a scene in Monroe County, march organizer Caseem Johnson spoke ahead of time with police, who agreed to walk with the protesters. Johnson stressed to attendees that the event should remain peaceful, even if any antagonists showed up.
The crowd was estimated by police to be about 2,000 people, according to Johnson. Though people were often close together, many did chant through masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I lied 2000 people stroud regional told me bruh what!!!!!!— Senju Seem (@LoveLiveSeem) June 1, 2020
One protester, Alexis Douglas, said she was out for "the future people." Justice isn’t being served, she said, and "it has to do with racism. It does. … It’s just not right."
"Black lives matter!" and "No justice, no peace!" rang through the streets. Protesters also chanted "Say his name! … George Floyd!" as well as "Say her name! … Breonna Taylor!"
Taylor was a black woman and emergency medical technician killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky, who entered her apartment on a no-knock search warrant. Her boyfriend shot at what he believe to be intruders, and police returned fire, striking Taylor eight times.
The officers involved have not been charged with anything, though Louisville’s police chief was fired Monday.
"In the black community, we’re not getting any justice," said Maya, a protester who declined to give her last name. "A lot of white supremacists are killing us for no reason, and we’re not getting justice."
Speakers on the courthouse steps were sometimes difficult to hear, but included state Rep. Maureen Madden (D-PA 115), who declared, "In my district, black lives matter!"
U.S. Rep Matt Cartwright, an Eighth District Democrat, was the highest-profile politician to appear. He told the crowd his colleague Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights leader from Georgia, would be proud of them.
That fell flat for some protesters, who yelled things like, "Demilitarize the police!" and "You ain’t doing s---!"
In a separate statement issued Monday, Cartwright praised peaceful protest, and its prevalence in this region, saying "I have been so proud to see that among the demonstrations in northeastern Pennsylvania, not one was marred by violence."
PHOTOS: Marchers make way from Dansbury Park to Monroe County Courthouse
Cities including Philadelphia, meanwhile, have imposed curfews, and the National Guard is deployed there.
"I came out here because I’ve seen a lot of injustice. I’ve been watching live streams, seeing people just speaking their opinions, and I’ve seen reactions that are not how I’d hope they would be," said Danny Fetter, who attended with his brother, Andrew. "I’m here to try and make a change. I’m trying to be peaceful and show people that people are good."
"Everybody’s a person, so everybody needs to have the respect and be treated the same," Andrew added. "And when people are just sitting here and doing nothing, it speaks volumes, even though they’re not saying anything. So hopefully we can change that."