JENSEN BEACH, Fla. — Several dozen people peacefully protested outside of the Treasure Coast Square mall Monday afternoon and into the evening.
Law enforcement officers said the event played out just as they hoped it would. There was no violence, only people peacefully, yet firmly demanding an end to police brutality.
Law enforcement officers from Martin County and St. Lucie County protected their protest from threats found online of looting and rioting.
Protesters originally gathered on mall property but were asked to leave the private property by mall staff. Protesters cooperated and moved to the sidewalk along US 1 in Jensen Beach.
Protesters held signs, chanted, and had productive conversations with law enforcement officers.
“We want to live, too. We are one. We are one. God made us as one,” a protester said.
“We’re not against police. We’re against police brutality,” said Calinda Gibson.
Protesters like Gibson said they were prepared to support law enforcement if anyone tried to commit crimes at the mall. “We were going to be at that front door like this and not let those protesters in,” Gibson said, with her arms interlocked with her daughter.
Gibson said she felt the group accomplished a goal of talking to law enforcement officers directly and explaining their frustrations.
“If this guy is using force, and I think he’s going far, yea I’m going to pull his behind off,” Lt. Bill Dowdy said to a protester. That protester responded, "If any officer doesn’t feel that way, they don’t deserve to be out here.”
“They even said a prayer for us, so I'm like wow you know, this is what we want,” Gibson said.