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Protest Sparked by Banner of George Floyd Lynching Continues in Lawrence

A barricade on Monday blocking the street in downtown Lawrence. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

Protesters continue to block a main thoroughfare in downtown Lawrence Monday evening after a protest was sparked over the weekend by a banner depicting George Floyd being lynched.

A police show-of-force on Monday did little to end the protest. Lawrence police say there were no injuries and six people were arrested.

A banner depicting George Floyd with a noose around his neck was put up on Massachusetts Street sometime during the weekend.

“I was hurt. I was angry,” said one protester named Helen on Monday. She didn’t want to use her full name. “I was physically shaken.”

“I sat out here in my car for like 30 minutes and cried,” she said, “because I’m tired. We’re tired of this.”

Floyd was killed when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck. The banner depicting Floyd also criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, calling it authoritarian.

Protesters want an investigation, saying the banner was hate speech. They also want to defund the police department and send more resources to social services.

In addition, protesters want Rontarus Washington Jr. released from jail. They say he has been unjustly held for five years and continues to be held after a jury couldn't reach a decision in his murder trial.

A vehicle drove through the protest line Monday afternoon, and another later in the day, although it didn't appear there were any significant injuries. Police say they're investigating.

Police gave protesters a warning before marching down the street to clear it. About 200 protesters complied and cleared the way for police.

“We acknowledge and appreciate the right of our citizens to assemble peacefully,” LPD’s Patrick Compton said in a news release. “However, we are asking those individuals currently on Massachusetts Street to do so in a safer location out of the roadway.”

After police left, protesters quickly moved tents and other items back into the roadway, with chants of “no justice, no peace.”

In response, the city moved barricades into the street to block any vehicle traffic from the protest site.

 

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