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Candlelight vigil planned at Charles City park Friday night for George Floyd

By Bob Steenson, bsteenson@charlescitypress.com

A candlelight vigil in memory of George Floyd, the man who died while in custody of Minneapolis police officers, is being planned to begin at 7 this evening (Friday) in Charles City.

People were commenting on Facebook sites about wanting to do something, said Christine Bauer, a Charles City resident who said she shares the outrage.

“People had started posting in the Charles City Chat that they wanted to protest, and I’m like, OK, I understand wanting to protest, but I wanted everybody to be able to do something more peaceful,” Bauer told the Press.

“When you say protest, people assume it could get violent,” she said. “We wanted to get away from saying the word protest and do a candlelight vigil. It sends a stronger message … to remember his life.

“If you want to be violent, stay home, because that is not what this is about,” she said.

Bauer said she “kind of got thrust into” organizing the event after people began asking her for details, but she said it was something she had done before, referencing a sit-in she organized while in school in Virginia that prevented an old high school building from being torn down.

Bauer said she contacted the Charles City Police Department and Floyd County Sheriff’s Office to make sure the event wasn’t going to be breaking any rules.

“There are going to be police and sheriffs (deputies) present to join in, in solidarity,” she said. “Charles City cops and the sheriffs here are really great. They’re just as outraged about it as we are.”

Bauer mentioned a statement that Police Chief Hugh Anderson had issued earlier in the week.

In it, Anderson said, “The Charles City Police Department condemns the actions leading to the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police. We as officers are expected to protect the people in our communities we serve. These officers have degraded and discredited our profession, and broken the trust with those we serve, our residents in our communities.

“We find the acts of these officers incomprehensible and deeply disturbing. We want our community to know that these kinds of actions will not be accepted or tolerated,” Anderson said, adding the department is committed to maintaining the positive relationships officers have built with the community.

Bauer said, “I’m pretty proud of him for doing what he did. As a police officer he’s making a good example for what other police officers should be. I’m happy we were able to make contact with him and they’re able to show up.”

Asked why she was getting involved, Bauer said her father and her second husband were both in the military, so she has lived all over the country.

“I know the importance of community,” she said. “You don’t need to fight against each other. We need to stand together as a community to get through these issues.”

She said she realizes that with the COVID-19 situation, tensions are already running high.

“We don’t want to further incite violence,” she said. “We want to keep it as peaceful as possible.”

City Administrator Steve Diers said the city was aware of the event planned for tonight.

“We’re trying to be generally prepared for something,” he said. “I don’t know that we’re doing anything in particular other than being mindful and aware. We want to make sure everything stays peaceful and be prepared if it doesn’t.”

George Floyd, an African American, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him down and pressed Floyd’s neck with his knee as the man pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.

Violent demonstrations have raged in scores of American cities, marking a level of unrest unseen for decades.

White police officer Derek Chauvin, who put his knee on the handcuffed Floyd’s neck for several minutes, has been charged with murder. Three other officers who stood by have been charged with aiding and abetting murder. All four officers were fired.

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