GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Protestors began their demonstration near the police department Wednesday afternoon. It ended after several miles of marching throughout downtown, Eastown, and East Grand Rapids.
The protest began with a silently. Later, hundreds of people joined Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne chanting 'I can't breathe.'
Payne and other leaders took a knee, as demonstrators chanted for 9 minutes, the length of time ex-police officer Derek Chauvin had his knee of the neck of George Floyd. He was pronounced dead after being in police custody.
"It's so important to try and keep the peace so none of that stuff happens again. They saw one side, anger, and now they're seeing you know we can still be peaceful and still talk about issues," said protest organizer Alyssa Bats. "We're back, and we're still upset about it. We haven't been silenced, and we're still here.
The message is one the police department is hearing loud and clear.
"We’re here to show support of a peaceful demonstration. We want everyone to know we hear you and black lives matter," said Chief Payne.
The crowd continued a peaceful protest even past the scheduled time. Many marched throughout the streets of Grand Rapids, remaining peaceful.
There were some tense moments between protestors and police once they came to their final stretch, near Fulton in Grand Rapids. City trucks blocked the route into the city, along with a line of deputies from the Kent County Sheriff's Office.
Eventually, the atmosphere changed when the deputies took a knee with protestors and shook hands with them. Afterwards, all of them decided to go home.