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Gov. Reynolds calls George Floyd's death horrifying while Iowa activists organize protests

A protester holds a sign with an image of George Floyd during protests Wednesday, May 27, 2020, in Minneapolis against t
A protester holds a sign with an image of George Floyd during protests Wednesday, May 27, 2020, in Minneapolis against the death of Floyd in Minneapolis police custody earlier in the week. (Christine T. Nguyen/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

When asked for her thoughts Friday regarding the death of George Floyd, Gov. Kim Reynolds called the situation heartbreaking and horrifying.

George Floyd, 46, died after a Minneapolis police officer — later identified as Derek Chauvin — was captured on video restraining Floyd by placing his knee on Floyd’s neck.

A video captured by a bystander surfaced Tuesday. It showed Floyd handcuffed and lying face down on the ground while Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck even Floyd stopped moving.

Floyd could be heard repeatedly pleading with the officer, saying “Please, please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man.”

The four officers involved in the arrest were fired hours after the video went viral.

“It is heartbreaking and horrific to see an individual treated so unjustly,” Reynolds told reporters at her Friday COVID press briefing. “We just have to ensure that justice is served. It’s disgusting to think that something like that could happen in this country. It’s important justice is served and that the right appropriate actions are taken.”

Chauvin was taken into custody Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Iowa City Interim Police Chief Bill Campbell also spoke out against Floyd’s death, condemning the Minneapolis officers’ actions.

“The death of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer is tragic,” Campbell said in a statement. “Like many of you, I watched the video in disbelief, sadness, and frustration, as those who took an oath to protect us, failed to make good on that promise. This is of great concern to our nation, community, and police department. The manner in which these officers treated Mr. Floyd is inconsistent with how we train police officers to conduct their interactions with the public.”

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On Thursday, Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman spoke out against the Minneapolis officers’ conduct, saying in a statement released Thursday that he found Floyd’s death “disturbing,” adding that “all individuals should be treated with dignity and respect.”

“The video footage that I have seen is disturbing and is inconsistent with both training and protocols of a law enforcement officer,” Jerman said in the statement.

Floyd’s death has sparked several days of violent protests that have raged throughout Minneapolis, resulting in numerous fires and significant property damage.

Gov. Reynolds Friday acknowledged Americans’ right to peacefully protest but condemned the destruction ripping through Minneapolis. Reynolds also expressed confidence that protests in Iowa will stay peaceful.

“As Americans we have the right to peacefully protest and we should,” she told reporters. “Riots and violence serve nobody. That doesn’t even do justice to his memory. … So I know Iowans will do it right. And they will do what is (right) in a peaceful manner. They have the right to do that.”

In Iowa, a handful of protests have also been scheduled, including in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo and Des Moines.

Two protests have been scheduled in Cedar Rapids.

The first calls for “people of all races and backgrounds” to “come together and say that racism and police brutality have no place in our society.”

Donning the name “I Can’t Breathe! Protest,” the event calls for people to gather at 3 p.m. Saturday on the sidewalk alongside Hy-Vee at 1566 First Avenue NE, where “local activists and leaders will speak,” and at 5 p.m. the group will march into downtown.

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The second event is scheduled for next weekend — from 4 to 7 p.m. June 6 at 450 Fifth Avenue SE.

Dubbed the “Peaceful Protest,” the event calls for people to march in peaceful protest of “the heartbreaking and infuriating racism, inequality, and murder experienced by George Floyd and too many others.”

The route for the march is not detailed in the post.

In Iowa City, The Black Voices Project is hosting a rally at noon Saturday at Pentacrest in front of the Old Capitol Building on the University of Iowa campus.

Following the rally, the event calls for attendees to get in their cars and form a vehicle protest that will travel to Minneapolis.

In Waterloo, the “I Can’t Breath! March for George Floyd” is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Soldiers & Sailors Park at 655 Cedar St.

The event page states there will be some speaking followed by a march at 6:15 p.m. that will travel over the Sixth Street bridge- past the jail- courthouse and police station to Lincoln Park.

At the park, Waterloo’s new Police Chief -Joel Fitzgerald Sr. will be introduced and community members will have a chance to speak. A community prayer lead by Pastor Belinda Creighton Smith followed by words from Rep. Ras Smith also will take place, according to the page.

And in Des Moines, a community organization called Mothers Against Violence, has organized an event starting at 1 p.m. Saturday. The “We Still Can’t Breathe,” march will meet at the parking lot on East 14th Street and East University Avenue in Des Moines, and march to Sixth Avenue and back.

Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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