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Thousands in Philadelphia march in protest of Floyd's death

Christian Whittaker, Crisis Officer, speaks to a crowd of protestors with an open prayer at the Philadelphia Art Museum steps on Saturday, June 6, 2020, in Philadelphia. People are protesting the death of George Floyd, who died after he was restrained in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis. (Tyger Williams/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
June 06, 2020 - 3:30 PM

PHILADELPHIA - Thousands of people demanding justice for George Floyd flooded the streets of downtown Philadelphia on Saturday, chanting “No justice, no peace!”

Demonstrators gathered near the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its famous “Rocky" steps before setting off for the City Hall area, with the line of marchers stretching for several city blocks along the tree-lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The protesters circled City Hall, clapping and shouting, “Black Lives Matter!” as some residents of an apartment building held signs on their balconies reading “BLM” and “Keep Going, Philly,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

To police officers and National Guard members, they chanted: “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”

Qadir Sabur, 22, handing out water and snacks and holding a sign that read “Don’t just say Black Lives Matter, show us,” said that in addition to opposition to police brutality, African Americans in the city should benefit from the same opportunities in jobs and education.

“I’m not just seeing blacks come together today as one,” he said, “I’m seeing everyone coming together as one," he told the Inquirer.

By late afternoon, many protesters had left but others lingered around the Art Museum area or along the parkway. Smaller demonstrations were held in other areas, including one by the African American Museum in Philadelphia near Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

City officials earlier announced street closures, saying much of the city centre, from the Delaware River to the Schuylkill River, would be closed to vehicles. A curfew will be in effect again overnight, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., during which time only people with essential duties are allowed out.

Smaller groups also marched in other cities around the state, including several hundred in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area.

Floyd, who was black, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck even as he pleaded for air and stopped moving. His death has sparked protests over police treatment of African Americans and racial injustice nationwide.

In Pittsburgh, authorities were searching for someone they said threw an improvised incendiary device at an officer last weekend, resulting in injuries to another officer. Police said the device exploded on the ground near Mellon Square, causing a nearby officer “to suffer concussion-like symptoms."

Robert Swartzwelder, president of Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge 1, said the officer could have been “permanently disfigured, if not killed" if he had been hit by the device.

Authorities announced formation of a task force to investigate what they call a small group of people amid largely peaceful protests “who have attacked journalists, looted businesses, caused property damage and committed other crimes such as arson."

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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