Good communication has helped keep local protests peaceful

As if the world didn’t need any more tragedies, now comes George Floyd’s death in police custody, with video showing him dying as a Minneapolis police officer kneels on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

The May 25 incident sparked many protests throughout the United States, some more violent than others. Particularly disturbing were images of looting and fires, which although were not surprising given the intensity of emotions, were unnecessary and counterproductive to the protesters’ cause.

Fortunately, this mayhem didn’t occur during any of the recent protests in and near downtown Marquette and at Northern Michigan University.

Monday’s Black Lives Matter March, which started and ended at Third and Washington streets, came off peacefully, although it was loud at times. That’s to be expected at a protest, though, as were the many signs people carried throughout the area.

However, no cars were overturned, no bricks were thrown through windows and, most importantly, no shots were fired.

This is how protests should be.

Capt. Mike Laurila of the Marquette Police Department offered the department’s response on the Floyd tragedy.

“We are very saddened of the events that took place in Minneapolis, and we hope that the community heals quickly, and our thoughts and prayers to the Floyd family,” Laurila said in a telephone interview with The Mining Journal.

He also commended local protesters on how they handled their demonstrations.

“I’m very pleased that the protests have been safe, have been peaceful and obviously, I hope that continues,” Laurila said. “It’s our objective to make sure that that happens. Our job is to keep peace, and we’ll do everything we can to make sure that it stays peaceful.”

Laurila said he has been keeping in contact with local protesters, with the results being good communication and dialogue. In fact, protesters kept the police department informed of what they planned for the Monday march.

So, police were able to help them and keep them safe, he said.

Participants in future protests, wherever they might be, need to be aware of the COVID-19 pandemic, though, and the social distancing guidelines. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams cautioned in a CNN story that he expects new outbreaks of the coronavirus stemming from the nationwide protests, with thousands of people gathering in close proximity.

“You understand the anger, you hope that we can find ways that really can help people channel their anger into meaningful steps forward,” Adams, who is African-American, was quoted as saying.

The protests in Marquette might be over for the near future, or they might continue, but we suspect the anger that prompted the events will linger for a long time. We hope future protests will continue in the same peaceful vein to hopefully spark some badly needed social change.


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