BETHEL — A crowd of between 350 and 400 people gathered on the town common Tuesday for a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest.

A large crowd of Black Lives Matters protestors marched in Bethel in Tuesday evening. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Most joined in a march from the common to Cafe DiCocoa’s where they knelt outside for eight minutes and 45 seconds, the amount of time prosecutors say George Floyd’s neck was held under Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin knee. Video and audio of the incident showed Floyd gasping for breath and saying, “I can’t breathe” before he died.

The protest was peaceful from start to finish and was met with very minor opposition.

A few men stood in front of the Veterans Honor Roll Park across from DiCocoa’s holding weapons.

Greenwood resident Mark Paaso announced Monday on Facebook that he would attend the protest to provide security to ensure “no businesses or private property are damaged, looted, set on fire, or otherwise compromised.”

Paaso welcomed others to join him.

No incidents of businesses being damaged were reported.

McKenzie Richard was a driving force behind scheduling the protest. She said she was happy with the large turnout, but hoped people understood the bigger message of the movement.

“It’s really important for white people all over the country, especially in small towns where we are distanced from everything, to create conversation among ourselves and to discuss racial matters with each other,” Richard said. “I think it’s vital to discuss this matter in predominantly white areas, because we all have work to do if we want to be allies.”

Bethel Town Manager Loretta Powers said she had received no comments or complaints about the event.


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