Thousands rallied in downtown Houston on Tuesday to protest police brutality and the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
Emotions ran high in Houston — the city where Floyd grew up. The rally largely stayed peaceful other than a few isolated standoffs between police and protesters.
The massive rally drew thousands of people of all ages and different races. Many wore black t-shirts and masks. Before they set off on the march, they chanted some of George Floyd’s final words “I can’t breathe.”
Rappers and elected officials joined Floyd’s extended family in the largely peaceful protest against police violence in the wake of his death.
Protesters like Brison Gresham marched from Houston’s downtown park, Discovery Green, to City Hall.
“I’m feeling mad, I’m feeling sad, also confused at the same time. I don’t understand why people treat us this way,” Gresham said.
Floyd’s family, and other organizers, urged everyone to demonstrate peacefully.
“They’re expecting you to behave unbecoming. They’re expecting you to carry yourself like a fool. But we don’t have to do that,” said a member ofFloyd’s family at the rally. The family’s message focused on coming together. One of Floyd’s brothers found some comfort with the crowd.
“I love y’all. Don’t forget that man. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for y’all. I’d be in the shack just tied up — I’m hurt. I love my brother man,” he said.
Another member of Floyd’s grieving family asked people to stay involved.
“We know that we are just beginning the fight. It’s going to be more like a marathon. And we hope that y’all continue to support us as we seek justice for our cousin and our brother.”
That call to action resonated with college student Cyrano Davis. He’s already thinking of his next steps: vote in national and local elections.
“We’ve gone time and time making protest but nothing really happens, we’re not making the right informed votes to ensure that whether it’s the District Attorney Office or the Chief of Police office that’s ensuring they’re not hiring and going through right background checks,” Davis said.
Davis said he was worried the protests may get violent, as in other U.S. cities, like Minneapolis.
As the main rally wrapped up, many protestors lingered and police tried to break them up with pepper spray – though the vast majority of the rally remained peaceful.
Hundreds hung back in the streets of downtown Houston – some chanting the name of the latest black person to be killed by police.
A public viewing and a funeral for George Floyd are scheduled for next week in Southwest Houston. The events are expected to draw another large crowd, including the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden.
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