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Thousands gather peacefully at Vancouver rally in support of George Floyd protests

Last Updated Jun 1, 2020 at 6:17 am PDT

FILE - Thousands of people gathered in Downtown Vancouver Sunday as part of a protest against racism and police brutality. (Patrick Swadden, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Organizers and activists pled for a peaceful rally ahead of the 5 p.m. event

The gathering at the Vancouver Art Gallery spilled into nearby streets

The crowd remained calm, but physically distancing was impossible

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Thousands of people stood in absolute silence with their fists in the air at a protest against racism and police brutality Sunday evening at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

The demonstration was called in solidarity with protests that have spread across the U.S. in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and to demand action against racism in Canada.

Organizers and activists pled for a peaceful rally ahead of the 5 p.m. event.

RELATED: ‘We must keep this peaceful at all costs’: Rally against racism, police brutality planned for Vancouver 

NEWS 1130’s Patrick Swadden said those wishes were being honoured.

“We could just see the crowds gathering before we even got here and then we stepped out onto the plaza and there are people as far as you can see. It’s so far just been an incredibly peaceful protest,” he explained.

“During the moment when everybody had their fists in the air, you could absolutely hear a pin drop.”

Chants of “Black Lives Matter” echoed through the plaza.

The focus remained on the speakers on the steps, some of whom shared their experiences of being racially profiled and detained by police.

“Everybody’s just standing and listening to the messages of the speakers,” Swadden said.

Officers from the Vancouver Police Department were present.

The crowd spilled out onto nearby streets, vastly exceeding the 50 people allowed to gather under COVID-19 restrictions.

Almost everyone was wearing masks, and at least one woman brought extra to share with anyone in the crowd who needed one.

“People are doing their best but it is very difficult,” Swadden explained noting maintaining a physical distance of two metres was impossible for those in the crowd.