The death of George Floyd sparks protests in Milwaukee and across the world

June 4, 2020

Photos by Kim A. Robinson

Hundreds rallied Friday, May 29, 2020 and through the weekend in Milwaukee to denounce the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other acts of police misconduct across the country before marching to I-43 and shutting down part of the freeway.

The protest began with a moment of silence to honor Floyd, who died Monday, May 25, 2020, after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes as he was gasping for air and pleading that he couldn’t breathe.

“We’re here in solidarity,” said Vaun Mayes, a community activist who organized the event outside the Wisconsin Black Historical Society.

The four officers involved in Floyd’s death have been fired, but not all have been arrested or charged, and the ensuing protests in Minneapolis have led to several nights of violent unrest.

As demonstrators rallied and marched Friday afternoon in Milwaukee, authorities in Minnesota announced the officer who put his knee on Floyd’s neck had been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Photos by Kim A. Robinson

Floyd’s death has been condemned by national and local politicians, law enforcement leaders and everyday Americans of all races; and for many black Americans it was another painful example of the injustice and discrimination they encounter daily.

Fred Royal, president of the NAACP Milwaukee Branch, called on those gathered to keep working for justice after the rally.

“This is to honor those who died at the hands of police brutality,” Royal said, adding: “The question is what are you going to do when the cameras are gone and the excitement dies down?”

Then, holding handmade signs reading “I can’t breathe” and “Black lives matter,” hundreds of people began marching east on Center Street, slowing traffic as they made their way toward downtown Milwaukee.

The crowd marched onto I-43 from the North Avenue off-ramp, stopping traffic in the northbound lanes before walking off at Fond du Lac Avenue.

The crowd paused outside Milwaukee Police Department headquarters, then looped north to the Milwaukee County Courthouse before heading back to N. 27th and W. Center streets.

Photos by Kim A. Robinson

Those who organized and spoke at the rally repeatedly called for a safe demonstration and sought to avoid the violent unrest seen in Minneapolis and other cities in recent days.

Milwaukee leaders urged demonstrators to act peacefully and condemned the killing of Floyd, with Mayor Tom Barrett calling it “shocking, undefendable and unjustifiable.”

As the protest continued into the weekend, what had started for the most part and had remained peaceful, some looting and vandalism did occur throughout the city. Due to the looting, Mayor Tom Barrett ordered a curfew starting at 9:00 p.m. and lasting until 5;00 a.m. Sunday morning.

Protests not only took place this past week in Milwaukee and several other cities in the U.S. Peaceful marches also took place in cities across the globe, including Toronto Canada; London, England; Auckland, New Zealand; Sydney, Australia; Paris, France; Tokyo, Japan Copenhagen, Denmark; and a number of other locations.