The march was peaceful; the message was urgent: Racial injustice and police brutality cannot continue and will not be tolerated.
Several hundred Key West residents, visitors and military personnel, as well as local law enforcement officers, gathered downtown Monday evening for a peaceful protest of George Floyd’s suffocating death at the hands of Minneapolis police while in custody.
“No one hates a bad cop more than a good cop,” Key West Police Chief Sean Brandenburg assured the appreciative crowd. “The Key West Police Department in no way condones excessive use of force. We take pride in our close bond with this community.”
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin now faces charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after video showed him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Sheriff Rick Ramsay echoed the chief’s commitment to the community.
“We’re gonna stand side by side with you,” Ramsay emphasized.
“We’re divided as a country right now, but we don’t have to be divided as a community,” Key West Mayor Teri Johnston said. “Let’s show the world tonight what a community looks like, how a community acts… what Key West is.”
City Commissioner Clayton Lopez also urged peace, but not patience.
“The peace we seek should not be mistaken for patience,” Lopez said.. “We’ve about run out of patience.”
The crowd then marched up Amelia Street to Duval, where it stretched for blocks to Caroline Street.
Marchers carried signs and chanted ‘Black Lives Matter,” “George Floyd,” and repeated Floyd’s documented pleas to police, “I can’t breathe.”
Black, white, Hispanic, gay, straight, rich, poor, male, female, young and old marched peacefully behind police motorcycles that led the way.