CLINTON — Americans around the nation are coming together to protest police brutality against people of color. The outrage stemmed from a video that surfaced on social media of a Minneapolis police officer with his knee pressed against the neck of an unarmed, handcuffed black man, George Floyd.
Some Clinton-area residents have organized a protest in Clinton, set to begin at 5 p.m. today in Clinton.
Joshua Paul, an organizer, said the overall idea is to raise awareness about police using excessive force. At the same time, he understands protests are getting a bad name because of looting and rioting. But Paul said this protest is about unity, not violence.
“I want to stress that I want this to be peaceful,” Paul said. “I do not want this to turn out like the Quad-Cities, like Minneapolis, like Chicago. I do not want that here.”
Paul said he hopes people realize this protest goes beyond race and highlights police officers who are abusing their power against everyone. He said sometimes people do not realize what is happening because they have yet to experience a bad encounter with the police. But he said that is not an excuse to not see what is transpiring across the nation.
The protest is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. today with a march. The route starts near the Riverview Bandshell and will continue along the sidewalks down Riverview Drive. They will proceed to Sixth Avenue South to South Second Street and make a loop that ends where they began. Organizers on Monday were still finalizing the exact route and plans for a candlelight vigil.
Paul posted in the Facebook group, Clinton, IA, Police Brutality Protest, that the city’s police chief asked him to postpone the protest. The idea weighed heavily on Paul, but he said they must continue.
“I did talk with him (Police Chief Kevin Gyrion,)” Paul said. “And I did tell him that unfortunately at this time it is not going to be able to be postponed.”
Paul said Gyrion has been very supportive throughout this entire process.
Chief Gyrion said the same about Paul and the other organizers. He said he supports the idea.
“We are perfectly welcoming to any demonstrations or protest as long as it’s peaceful,” Gyrion said. “I’ve been in contact with the organizers, and we have a pretty decent working relationship right now with them and are trying to make this go off without a hitch. So, peaceful and organized and communication with us, we have no issue with it.”
Gyrion said the department is looking forward to helping out in any way possible. Additionally, he said the group did not need permits since it does not plan to block any streets. He said he wants the group to enjoy its demonstration and supports the protesters exercising their First Amendment rights.