Protesters across Wyoming continued to express their dismay this week over the death of Minnesota man George Floyd at the hands of police.
Demonstrators took to the streets in Laramie, Gillette and Rock Springs in the past several days and Casper officials were preparing Wednesday for what was expected to be a large protest.
All demonstrations so far have been peaceful, with participants voicing their opposition to police violence.
Protesters plan week of marches in Laramie
By Andrea Novotny
Via Wyoming News Exchange
LARAMIE — Well over 100 people turned out for a Black Lives Matter protest at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Demonstrators gathered at the 1st Street Plaza, marched east on Grand Ave. to 15th Street and then back to the plaza. The event is set to repeat every night this week.
Smaller groups of protesters held demonstration on the same issue over the weekend.
Billy Harris, one of the event’s organizers, said the march was planned Tuesday morning.
“It will be a week-long thing, so we can iron out the details, but I’m really pleased with the turnout and I think our message was definitely heard,” he said. “I think it’s important that our community knows that we have a voice here, we have a loud voice here and we support justice for George Floyd, justice for Brianna Taylor, an end to police brutality, an end to systematic racism.”
Harris urged participants of future demonstrations this week to remain peaceful, practice social distancing as much as possible and to wear a mask if they can — the group has a few extras to share, too.
Most of the crowd wore masks and the event was peaceful, though following the event, organizers reminded everyone to stay out of traffic.
A few trucks blasted diesel smoke at the protesters.
More vehicles honked and cheered or chanted along.
The chants were the same as those echoed across the nation. “Say his name. George Floyd. Say her name. Brianna Taylor.”
Protesters and organizers spoke often about their goal to protest peacefully.
Marcus Cruz, one of the demonstrators, said he believes the event went well, and wants fellow protesters to continue to use good judgement so that their point does not become clouded.
“I just want to see change in this country and I’m tired of the injustice pressed upon colored people,” he said. “We’re out here trying to spread a message. ... We just need to be respectful of how we portray that message.”
Gillette residents protest Floyd’s death
By Gregory Hasman
Gillette News Record
Via Wyoming News Exchange
GILLETTE — Gillette resident Pamela Halbrook was a high school student when she protested the Vietnam War.
“I was young then,” she said. “We didn't go out on the street.”
Today, Halbrook believes in another cause, justice for George Floyd, the black man whose death by police has prompted protests and some violence across the country.
“I’m not saying all cops are bad, but it has to stop,” Halbrook said. “This time I just feel like I have to do something. I can’t just sit by anymore and act like it’s no big deal because it doesn't affect me. It affects all of us."
Holbrook stood outside of Walgreens on Tuesday afternoon in support of several teenage girls who held signs promoting African American equality and justice for Floyd on the corner of Highway 59 and East Boxelder Road.
“We’re not doing much, but i feel like we should have some say in it,” Mya Urrutia said. “I feel somebody needs to say something.”
“We stand with them here. All are equal and we’re not going to stop until we’ve all been heard,” Annika Martin said.
As the teens held up signs, a motorist drove by and yelled “take your bull---- elsewhere.”
“Ignorance, there’s no fixing it,” Sydney Pryor said.
Pryor said she does not condone the violence, but understands.
“I think that the riots are the message of the unheard and that until something is done about it nothing will ever change," she said. "Black people fear for their lives every day and I acknowledge my privilege and I’m going to use it to help."
Earlier in the day, about 50 people congregated at City Park to voice their support for Floyd and against police brutality.
“We needed to bring something like that here,” Danielle Hampton, one of the organizers, said of the protests nationwide. “It’s important that the world gets together. It’s about solidarity. United we stand, divided we fall.”
The protesters started at City Park and then walked to Lasting Legacy Park, where they held up signs that included a picture of Floyd and “8:46,” which refers to the amount of time white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck.
“Living in Gillette, Wyoming, of all places we don't ever do anything like this. But we just wanted come to support,” Tessa Andujo said.
Rock Springs protesters decry police brutality
By Chase Galley
Via Wyoming News Exchange
ROCK SPRINGS — Wanting to exercise their First Amendment rights, a group of peaceful protesters are organizing events through the weekend to show that they too are against police brutality in America.
On Tuesday, residents stood with signs and shirts on a carefully selected spot near Walgreens on Dewar Drive in Rock Springs.
“We chose it because of the beautiful American flag above us,” one protester said.
Signs that read “I can’t breathe” and shirts with “George Floyd” on them were in reference to the man who died in Minneapolis last week whose death has become a rallying point against police brutality. Though Floyd was handcuffed, a police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, even after he pleaded for air and then stopped moving. A wave of protests and demonstrations have followed in the wake of his death.
When asked about the turnout in Rock Springs, a protester who declined to be identified said he was hopeful there would be more.
“I hope so. If not, I will keep standing here,” he added.
People yelled in support from their vehicles as they drove by.
“There has been more support than resistance, but there has been resistance. We were followed after we were done protesting last night,” a protester said Tuesday.
Group members said they felt that this was an important movement in order to bring criminal justice reform that has been needed for a long time.
Looking at Wyoming, one said, “Absolutely it’s important. We are the Equality State.”
In order to protect themselves and practice social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, protest participants watched each other very closely and looked out for each other.