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Protesters hold rally in downtown West Palm Beach after death of George Floyd

Hundreds march through city, along I-95
Protesters march in downtown West Palm Beach on May 31, 2020 after the death of George Floyd.
Posted at 2:15 PM, May 31, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Shortly after a peaceful protest concluded Sunday in downtown West Palm Beach, some protesters marched along Interstate 95, holding signs as Florida Highway Patrol troopers and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputies wearing protective gear stood in their way.

Hundreds of people converged near Rosemary Square and marched through the city in a rally billed as "No Justice, No Peace."

An organized and diverse group of protesters were chanting "no justice, no peace" and "black lives matter" while holding signs that read "I can't breath" and "Justice for Floyd."

Before the rally began, West Palm Beach police said they were monitoring the situation and would defend the group's right to protest.

A view from Chopper 5 showed a line of West Palm Beach police cruisers, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office vehicles and FHP vehicles blocking the protesters' path as they marched from Okeechobee Road toward the Belvedere Road exit, blocking traffic.

At one point, a protester could be seen yelling at the deputies and troopers, but they just stood there.

After a lengthy standoff, the protesters appeared to walk back toward Okeechobee Boulevard. Law enforcement followed a good distance behind, never breaking their line.

By dusk, protesters had gathered near Clematis Street and Quadrille Boulevard, where they were chanting, "No more blood."

The situation escalated when police attempted to disperse the crowd while enforcing a 9 p.m. curfew that had been issued less than an hour earlier.

A confrontation ensued, prompting police to fire what witnesses said were rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at the crowd.

Several restaurants along Clematis Street were damaged during the incident, but owner Rodney Mayo blamed police.

Restaurant owner blames police for escalating confrontation with protesters

"It was completely unnecessary," he said.

Protests, which have at times turned violent, have occurred throughout the country since Floyd's death last Monday.

Video showed Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of Floyd before his death. Chauvin was charged Friday with manslaughter in connection with Floyd's death.

Protests were also held in Stuart and Indian River County in solidarity of Floyd and to prompt a change to police policies across America.