Protesters gathered in downtown Paso Robles on Tuesday, demanding justice for George Floyd and calling for racial equity.
The protest started at the Downtown City Park at 11 a.m..
Demonstrators knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds in honor of Floyd, a black man who died when a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. They also heard from speakers who encouraged their fellow protesters to keep the demonstration peaceful and non-violent.
Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin also took the mic and talked about forming a citizens' commission to hear people's concerns.
“I will establish a panel of people, a mayor’s panel, to discuss real and perceived problems of racism in Paso Robles,” Martin said. “We’ll have extended conversations with community leaders from all sectors.”
Around 100 demonstrators are marching around the blocks surrounding Downtown Park in Paso Robles.— Neil Hebert (@Neil_Hebert) June 2, 2020
Chants continue, “Say his name, George Floyd. Say her name, Breonna Taylor.” pic.twitter.com/qKu63t52h7
Protesters then took their message to the streets, marching around the downtown area. They appeared to be headed toward Highway 101 but were prevented from entering the freeway by law enforcement.
The demonstrators walk toward 101 South, but police presence blocks the attempt. pic.twitter.com/6onmJVoWdf— Neil Hebert (@Neil_Hebert) June 2, 2020
Organizers and protesters said they wanted to keep Tuesday's protest peaceful, especially after hearing rumors that people from out of the area were coming into town to cause trouble.
“The rumor of a riot makes me think of ignorance, negativity,” said Porche Hill, who was born and raised in Paso Robles. “I came down here to say what I needed to say to keep this as peaceful as possible. I appreciate what everyone is doing. I get this, but I want it to be in a peaceful matter.”
“This is where I grew up, this is where my children go to school, where my children play sports,” said organizer Sandra Bautista Floyd. “We cannot do that to our town. We have to have our voices heard. We have to stay educated. We have to reach out to the youth, educate them, teach them.”
Police told KSBY News they had found no validity to the claims of rioters or looters coming from outside the area.
By 7 p.m., it appeared most of the protesters had left the area after two of the demonstrators led a prayer with Paso Robles Police Chief Ty Lewis.
Chief Lewis said, "The peaceful end to the protest spoke to the soul of our community. Everyone’s voice was heard, and we were able to keep everyone safe today.”
Police estimate the protest totaled about 125 people.