Death of George Floyd sparks protests, including in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton

George Floyd’s death on May 25 incited protests not only in Minneapolis, but in cities throughout Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Lancaster, as well as Wilkes-Barre and Scranton.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by white police officers. According to video, for more than eight minutes, one of the officers, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck, even though Floyd claimed he had trouble breathing. Floyd, unable to get up, died. The scene was captured on cameras by nearby witnesses.

Photo by Tony Thomas

These photos and videos became viral.

Many Americans, especially those involved in the Black Lives Matter Movement, see Floyd’s death as another African American death at the hands of police. They, and others, argue this an example of how racism still permeates American culture.

The need be heard has led to protests in support of Floyd in cities across the country. 

While some of the protests have been peaceful, in larger cities such as Harrisburg and Philadelphia, violence has broken out. Crowds have been gathering around police vehicles, harassing officers and defacing city property. Police have begun arrests and are using items, including pepper spray and tear gas, to push people back. Recently, in Philadelphia, people have been going in and out of stores taking merchandise as well. 

On the evening of May 30, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenny went on a live broadcast to describe the destructive acts of the protests. He was joined by the Philadelphia NAACP President, City Council President, Philadelphia Police Commissioner and others who also gave responses. They claimed they understood the significance of Floyd’s death and the power of the protests, but not at the cost of destroying the city in the process. As a result, they implemented city-wide curfews to limit the violence.

Hundreds also gathered in Lancaster, Pa., seeking justice for Floyd’s death. Today marks their second day of protests in multiple locations throughout Lancaster County. Alongside Lancaster, the cities of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton saw action as well, but the protests have not led to violence or vandalism. 

Demonstrators hoisted signs on the Wilkes-Barre Public Square for the Black Lives Matter Movement as drivers passing by honked in show of support. Activists of the Black Scranton Project were present at the protests in Scranton too, and have been trying to raise money through social media. These demonstrations have been hosted by community organizations including NEPA for Change and Put People First.

Attendees are advised to wear masks, practice social distancing and bring signs to the gathering.

Since Floyd’s death, Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.