Photos by Clayton Taylor
An estimated 4,000 people attended an ultimately peaceful protest event held Tuesday night on the Fayetteville downtown square.
The event was organized as a demonstration against police brutality and systematic racism in the U.S. and its judicial system.
The “Justice for George Floyd/Black Lives Matter” event included remarks by guest speakers, a march around the square, chants, songs, and an eight-minute moment of silence as protesters and police knelt in remembrance of George Floyd, a 46-year old black man who was killed in police custody on May 25 when a white Minneapolis police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds after he was accused of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill.
The protest was one of hundreds that have erupted around the country in reaction to Floyd’s death, with peaceful and sometimes violent protests taking place in all 50 states.
Fayetteville police were on hand at the event, but in contrast to other protests held around the state and nation, officers were outfitted in yellow vests instead of riot gear. Police also knelt and chanted “Black Lives Matter” in solidarity with demonstrators at Tuesday’s event.
Fayetteville Police Chief Mike Reynolds had previously issued a statement denouncing the conduct by Minnesota police that led to Floyd’s death.
Tuesdays demonstration remained mostly peaceful, though it wasn’t totally without incident.
A video circulating Wednesday showed a white demonstrator throwing fireworks into the crowd, and reports were made of water bottles and eggs being hurled. A fight that broke out at around 11:30 p.m. resulted in an event attendee spraying pepper spray, causing one television station to erroneously report that tear gas had been deployed.
The event began at 7 p.m. and was scheduled to end at 9 p.m., but some protestors remained on the square until around midnight.
Photography by Flyer contributor Clayton Taylor