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'Take a knee and put your fist up for George Floyd': Thousands protest racism, police brutality in Vancouver

Last Updated Jun 6, 2020 at 1:01 am PDT

Summary

For the second time in a week, a crowd of thousands converged on downtown Vancouver to protest racism, police brutality

Organizers have been adamant that these demonstrations must remain peaceful

Rallies are taking place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with volunteers handing out masks and gloves

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Thousands gathered at a rally in downtown Vancouver heeded organizers’ calls for a peaceful and positive demonstration demanding action against racism and police brutality.

Crowds converged at Jack Poole Plaza starting at 4 p.m. Friday, and spilled onto nearby streets.

Police estimated anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 people were in attendance.

The Vancouver Police Department says two people were arrested near the end of the protest.

“Overall the protest was peaceful and everyone was cooperative. Towards the end, there were instigators who got involved with the protesters which resulted in 2 being arrested for assault and released pending further information,” according to Cst. Tania Visintin.

By 8 p.m. the crowds had dispersed.

At the beginning of the rally, at the urging of rally organizer Jacob Callender-Prasad, protesters took a knee and silently raised their fists in the air in honour of George Floyd.

Floyd’s killing by police has galvanized people in cities across the world to organize demonstrations against racism and police brutality.

This is the second time within a week that thousands have taken to the streets in Vancouver.

Organizers in Vancouver have insisted that these demonstrations must remain peaceful, noting that when police are deployed to suppress protests, people of colour become vulnerable to arrests and use of force

“People are just really trying to encourage each other and support each other in this movement. There’s a lot of love and support here and people cheering each other on,” says CityNews reporter Isabelle Raghem.

“Speakers here really are trying to share the message that this is an issue that is important to Canadians, and that has to be dealt with here in Canada.”

NEWS 1130’s Patrick Swadden says a nine-year-old boy took the stage to address the sprawling crowd, describing how he has been taunted with racial slurs.

“He basically was talking about his experiences with racism in the classroom,” Swadden says, adding the racist insults he was subjected to are too explicit to repeat.

“Right after he spoke, his parents who were standing on either side of him made a pledge to him that they would–as long as they lived–that they would dedicate themselves to making sure that his life matters, that he would have just as much opportunity as the next person.”

The protests calling attention to the racism that plagues police forces and institutions are happening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Volunteers handed out sanitizer, masks and gloves but physical distancing remained a challenge.

Protests were also set for Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Kelowna.