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El Paso George Floyd Protest draws hundreds

El Paso George Floyd protest at police headquarters
Angela Kocherga

EL PASO – Hundreds of protestors gathered in El Paso Sunday night chanting “I can’t breathe” as they marched to El Paso Police Department headquarters. 

“I want to be out here with my brothers and sisters that I go to school with and make sure that we all have a voice for later on in life,” said 21-year-old Zachary Greenhoward.

The demonstration began in Memorial park with protestors observing eight minutes of silence in memory of George Floyd. The African American man died after a Minneapolis police officer put a knee on his neck for more than eight minutes and pinned a handcuffed Floyd to the ground.

“We don’t want to grow up in a system where our children have got to worry am I going to get killed,” said Greenhoward. He wore a face mask with verse of bible scripture written on it.   

El Paso George Floyd protestor in face mask
Credit Angela Kocherga / KTEP News
Zachary Greenhoward, 21, was one of the peaceful protestors in El Paso demanding justice for George Floyd and an end to police brutality. (June 1, 2020)

Many of the demonstrators were in their 20s or younger and included Latinx, African American and other young people. “I came out here today with my friends. As young African American teenagers we need to take a stand,” said 17-year-old Shade Yañez who was with three other girls.

One of the signs the teens held was handwritten in Spanish and with an important to share with all generations said 18-year old Faith Yanez who read the message. “It’s our responsibility to talk about racism with our children, parents, friends, colleagues, and ourselves now and always,” read Yañez.

The demonstration was mostly peaceful but there were some tense moments when protestors stood face to face with officers at the entrance to police headquarters.  "To look them in the eye,” said Greenhoward. “The reason is we’re out here unarmed but they’re holding riot shields. They’re in combat gear. We’re not the enemy here. That’s just what I want them to understand. We’re out here to do the right thing,” he said.

A tweet from the El Paso Matters publisher Bob Moore showed a clip of video of two police officers taking a knee at the request of a group of protestors who then applauded the men defusing a tense situation.

While demonstrations in some cities across the country turned violent over the weekend, El Paso did not experience property damage  during the protest than lasted for nearly four hours.  

El Paso George Floyd teen girls protestors with signs
Credit Angela Kocherga / KTEP News
A group of teen-aged girls carried handwritten signs supporting Black Lives Matter and demanding justice during a protest in El Paso.

“People didn’t get violent and that’s what’s best,” said 17-year-old Jizel Vasquez. 

She said her grandmother had protested for civil rights as teenager. “Now it’s my turn.” 

Later in the evening El Paso police fired tear gas and projetiles at a group that had returned to Memorial Park. 

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