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Missouri’s capital city sees large crowd protesting racism, police brutality

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — In what was a largely peaceful demonstration, an estimated 1,000 protestors convened in Missouri’s capital city to demonstrate and march in solidarity against racism and police brutality. 

The two events — a rally in front of the Missouri Capitol and a march through downtown Jefferson City to Lincoln University, a historically black college — came the same day an independent autopsy declared George Floyd’s death a homicide. Floyd, 46, was a black Minnesota man who died May 25 after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes, despite protestations that he could not breathe. 

For about two hours, demonstrators gathered on the lawn in front of the Capitol, listening to speakers before kneeling in front of law enforcement officers standing sentry around the statehouse. Law enforcement included members of the National Guard, Jefferson City Police, Capitol Police, Conservation Department officers, and more. 

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Often, protestors encouraged officers to kneel with them; some did, eliciting cheers and fist bumps. Others used sign language to say “I love you” to the demonstrators. 

The march led protestors down East High Street, with law enforcement officers flanking their path, winding down Lafayette Street. Demonstrators paused at the corner of Lafayette and Dunklin where protestors laid in the middle of the roads and sidewalks in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the length of time the Minneapolis Police officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck. 

Throughout the rally, people converged on the outskirts, handing out face coverings or water bottles as the temperature hovered in the mid-80s. 

According to a police source, “thousands” of people turned out to protest Monday. 

The protests — which stretched from the early evening until about 10:30 — remained largely peaceful: A few water bottles were thrown toward police officers during the march, but the crowd largely dispersed later in the night after a fight broke out. 

It’s unclear if any arrests were made; a Jefferson City Police Department spokesperson was not aware of any related to the protests as of midnight Tuesday. 

Gov. Mike Parson activated the Missouri National Guard over the weekend as protests around the country — including in St. Louis and Kansas City — have turned dangerous. Parson, too, has decried the death of Floyd. 

“We’re deeply saddened by the tragic death of George Floyd here in Missouri,” Parson told reporters earlier Monday. “What happened to him is very wrong. And it has filled Americans everywhere with sadness, grief, and anger.” 

The road around the Governor’s Mansion remained blocked throughout the duration of Monday’s protests with barricades and law enforcement officers stationed on the sidewalks around it. 

Erica, a Columbia woman, spoke at the rally, encouraging those gathered to register to vote. 

“For anyone that’s still down here at this point in time that wants to see a change, voting is the way to do it,” the woman, who only wished to be identified by her first name, told The Missouri Times. 

Other marches occurred around the state Monday, including in Columbia. Ahead of the Jefferson City protest, several downtown businesses as well as government offices, including the Capitol, closed early.