Hun­dreds protest with pas­sion, peace in Cler­mont

Orlando Sentinel - - Local & State - By John Cut­ter

More than 500 peo­ple on Wed­nes­day protested the killing of Ge­orge Floyd, start­ing their peace­ful march in Cler­mont with joy­ous cheers over new charges in the case and end­ing with pleas to turn pas­sion into ac­tion.

The crowd gath­ered at Water­front Park on Lake Min­neola as waves of light rain fell and then marched about a mile to City Hall. They packed the build­ing’s lawn and nearby streets to hear al­most two hours of speeches from or­ga­niz­ers, pro­test­ers and lo­cal and county of­fi­cials.

“The rea­son we are here to­day is to protest the un­just abuse, treat­ment and killing of black men, women and chil­dren in Amer­ica be­cause of po­lice bru­tal­ity,” or­ga­nizer R.J. Rogers, 21, of Cler­mont, told the crowd. “We are not here to protest po­lice on an in­di­vid­ual level, but rather the sys­tem built on racism and op­pres­sion.”

The protest was the first or­ga­nized one in Lake County since the killing of Floyd, a black man, by a white po­lice of­fi­cer in Min­neapo­lis. Another peace­ful protest at State Road 50 and Han­cock Road in Cler­mont drew more than 100 peo­ple, many who later joined the group at City Hall.

Lake in­sti­tuted a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. cur­few on Sun­day be­cause of “cred­i­ble threats” about protests, but Wed­nes­day’s marches were peace­ful and pas­sion­ate.

Speeches con­tin­ued into the late af­ter­noon as the rain held off. The crowd chanted “I can’t breathe” and “No jus­tice, no peace” after each speaker fin­ished.

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