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Say His Name, George Floyd: Orlando Protesters March From City Hall to Police Department Tuesday Demanding Justice

Protesters outside OPD HQ. Photo: Joe Byrnes
Protesters outside OPD HQ. Photo: Joe Byrnes

Thousands of people gathered in downtown Orlando for a fourth day of protests over the death of George Floyd, with demonstrators making speeches at City Hall,  and taking a knee at the police station.

First, there were just two protesters on the corner of Orange Avenue and South Street. Then, more quickly gathered.  

Vince Taylor Sr., who is African American was among the first arrivals. He stood with young people holding signs that read "You Will Not Silence Us" and "Enough is Enough".

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Vince Taylor Sr. kneels in front of protesters holding signs. Photo: Danielle Prieur[/caption]

“Look at all these young people, look at these white people, Asian people, black people here to support this effort,” Taylor said.

Taylor quickly melted into the crowd that grew to hundreds - chanting the names of people killed by police like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

Facing South Street, David Lawrence, a white man from Winter Park, held a handwritten sign that said: "I'm sorry I didn't use my voice earlier."

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David Lawrence holds a sign in front of Orlando City Hall. Photo: Joe Byrnes[/caption]

Lawrence said he regrets being indirectly racist by not speaking out against wrongdoing and harm to people of color.

"This is just a way of me showing up and saying, I'm sorry, like I want to do better."

Along the front of City Hall, Orlando police officers stood with their bicycles. Protesters began to turn to the building and shout at them.

And some climbed the steps to yell in their faces - but an organizer urged them not to do so.

Seventy-three-year-old Yvette Sharp, who said she was a Black Panther in New York, debated with a young woman eager to confront the officers.

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Yvette Sharp, right, speaks with with a young protester. Photo: Joe Byrnes[/caption]

"I know what I'm talking about. We have to come together. Not just us, but with the police officers. Make them part of us," Sharp said.

The woman responded: "They will never be a part of us because they don't want to be a part of us. They think they are the law. They think they are above us."

Later, Sharp said that change won't come through anger or vandalism.

"I was trying to tell her that not all policemen are bad. I was trying to tell her that in order for us to get along we have to come together," Sharp said.

The crowd, grew to several thousand and Angela Herrera and others spoke against racial bias in the criminal justice system. They urged peaceful protest.

"Black people do not have to fight this battle alone. And I’m here to tell you that the LatinX community stands before the black community. And su lucha es nuestra lucha."

Roughly translated: Your fight is our fight.

Watching the speeches was Rev. Josh Bell who held a sign with a quote from Martin Luther King: “True peace is not the absence of tension. It is the presence of justice.” 

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Rev. Josh Bell holds a sign before the march to OPD HQ. Photo: Danielle Prieur[/caption]

Bell remarked on the peacefulness of the protest - and said it was crucial for leaders to make a distinction between these protesters and looters.

“I’m looking for leaders who understand that our country is a powder keg right now," Bell said. "It is not the time to light matches. It is the time to listen.”

The crowd - which had now grown to thousands of people - turned and began walking down the street toward the expressway, through Parramore to the police station. 

At the station, as they had done at least three times before they called for everyone to take a knee and in the quiet a protester called unsuccessfully for officers to join them.

In a statement, OPD said officers used smoke and then tear gas on a small group of protesters who threw rocks and bottles at them. 

To listen to the full story, click on the clip above.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.