Thousands Turn Out Across Maine To Protest George Floyd's Killing, As Outrage Spreads
Chanting "I can't breathe," an estimated 1,000 demonstrators gathered Monday near the Portland Police Department and staged a "die-in" to protest the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, while hundreds more protested in Bangor and elsewhere in Maine. In Portland it was the fourth day of protests over the killing. The mostly young demonstrators were clad in black and wearing masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They carried signs saying "Black Lives Matter" and "No Justice, No Peace."
Floyd died in police custody after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck while he was handcuffed and saying that he couldn't breathe. In a symbolic reenactment of that event, hundreds of the protesters lay down with their hands behind their backs in front of the Portland Police Station.
The demonstrators vowed to keep up their daily protests until police stop removing their informal memorials.
Monday night, hundreds of signs were put up in front of the police station, including on the stairs leading to the main entrance.
Protestors had hoped Portland Police Chief Frank Clark would come out and address them, but he didn't before the crowd largely dispersed.
Later, after what had been a peaceful event, protestors blocked several intersections and surrounded two police cruisers, the Portland Press Herald reports. At one point, 25 officers in riot gear were pelted with water bottles and other items as they cleared the intersection of Franklin and Middle Streets.
Meanwhile, in Bangor the group Racial Equity and Justice mobilized hundreds who gathered peacefully in the city's downtown.
Protester Scarlett Furrow said she hopes the demonstrations help people understand that systemic racism affects everyone, and that they'll motivate police to take responsibility for other police. "If good cops don't speak up about bad cops, everyone is a bad cop," Furrow said.
Earlier the Bangor Police Department and the local NAACP released a joint statement condemning the Minnesota police officer's actions.
At the end of the Bangor demonstration, some protesters and Bangor police officers knelt down together and shook hands.
Hundreds more protesters demonstrated peacefully in Lewiston, marching five miles into neighboring Auburn before returning to Kennedy Park, according to the Lewiston Sun Journal. Similar protests were held in Waterville, Rockland and Farmington.
Meanwhile, former Minneapolice police officer Derek Chauvin has been arrested and charged with murder. Three other officers at the scene during Floyd’s death were fired by the Minneapolis police department but have not been charged.
Kevin Bennett contributed to this story.