Evansville, Owensboro rallies follow multiple nationwide protests

Police Chief releases statement regarding Saturday’s protest in Owensboro
Published: May. 31, 2020 at 1:49 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. and OWENSBORO, Ky (WFIE) - Gatherings have been going on across the country since the death of George Floyd, and that includes some Saturday in the Tri-State.

A group of people met at the Four Freedoms Monument in downtown Evansville for what organizers called a peaceful meeting for justice.

According to the Evansville Police Department, the gathering began to assemble at noon before marching to the front of the Civic Center. At its height, officers say nearly 300 people attended the protest.

Organizers say it was sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and they wanted to make their voices heard.

“I can never relate to what the black community goes through, and the injustice, but I feel like it’s the right time and the right thing to do,” one protester said.

Members of the community came together with signs, chanting for justice in response to the deaths of men and women of color across the country.

Several community members made speeches about how police-involved deaths have personally impacted their lives. The group then marched down the riverfront and marched on Walnut Street, and ended up in front of EPD headquarters.

Several community members made speeches about how police-involved deaths have personally impacted their lives.

“They need to hear us,” organizer Ebon Ellis said. “We’re sick of our brothers and sisters getting killed by gunfire for doing what other minorities do. That’s it.”

According to EPD Sgt. Nick Winsett, one juvenile and three adults were arrested on Saturday afternoon.

This reportedly happened when the protest was still in progress around 5:15 p.m.

According to a press release, the incident transpired when one of the protesters crossed through the police line in an attempt to provoke officers. Once this person crossed the line, a second protester crossed the line shortly afterward.

“A 15-year-old boy stepped across the line, when we had been across the line all day,” protester Danielle Smith said. “Four cops tackled him, and that’s when everything just went to heck.”

During this time of the protest, authorities say items were being thrown at officers and one of the police horses was struck in the face. EPD says another officer was struck too while one of the arrests was occurring.

In response to this reported incident, police declared the protest as unlawful and ordered the crowd to leave the area.

“I don’t understand why we are not allowed to stand here for our brothers and sisters,” Smith said. “I don’t understand it.”

The juvenile and three adults are facing multiple charges, including battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement.

Another group of protesters gathered around the same time in downtown Owensboro.

Between 100 and 200 people stood at the corner of St. Ann Street and 2nd Street. They held signs and chanted phrases like “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace.”

The protest moved after a couple of hours as the group walked up and down 2nd Street, around the courthouse and eventually up to the foot of the Blue Bridge, blocking it for a short time until Owensboro Police arrived on the scene.

Officers say the bridge was temporarily closed but has since reopened.

In regards to the protest on Saturday, Owensboro Police Chief Art Ealum made the following statement Sunday:

The Owensboro Police Department supports peaceful protests. Our citizens seized the opportunity to march through areas of our downtown at times disrupting traffic and blocking the Glover H. Cary Bridge. Our mission was to protect all citizens; therefore, we rerouted traffic around our community activists. The minor inconvenience that motorists experience yesterday paled in comparison to the social injustices that African Americans and other people of color have suffered in our country for centuries. Although there were a few people in the crowd who had ill intentions, the majority of our citizens represented themselves and our community well. They voiced legitimate concerns about police brutality in America and concerns about our own police department. It’s great to engage in discourse but it requires all sides to be civil and respectful; that doesn’t mean we have to always agree. I am very proud of our citizens who participated in the demonstration without resorting to violence and destruction other cities have experienced this past week. I commend the Owensboro Police Officers who maintained order and protected the activists as they walked around our great city. We all want peace in this city and we all value human life.

Attendees who spoke with 14 News say it’s time for a change.

“The sad thing about it is that I’m so used to things like this happening,” Laryssa Rogers said. “I wasn’t really shocked, I was more so hurt. It’s not all cops, it 's not all white people, but it’s the fact of the matter that some to this day are still making a bad name for the other ones.”

“We just want to show solidarity and support with our community that we don’t stand with police brutality and things like that,” protest organizer Lahoma Estrada said. “It’s really about racism here, and we just want to make sure people understand.”

The event remained peaceful while officers blocked off the streets for protesters.

“It’s amazing - I did not think there would be this many people, so I’m really proud of it." Emma Stovall said. “There has to be a change and my generation’s going to try and do that. So that’s why I’m here.”

Saturday’s protest in Owensboro began at noon and lasted until almost sundown.

There was also one Saturday morning in Jasper.

[National Guard summoned to aid cities amid protests, police clashes]

While it hasn’t been the case in other parts of the country, organizers say gatherings in the Tri-State are peaceful.

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