NORWALK, Conn. – Black Lives Matter protestors gathered Saturday in Norwalk, shutting down Interstate 95 for the second weekend in a row.
At least three Norwalk Police officers joined the peaceful protestors in taking a knee at Norwalk Police headquarters, and although Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik said he’d been concerned counter protestors would show up, there was no sign of dissent. One participant was almost hit by a car after jumping the I-95 jersey barrier to stop traffic on the northbound side, which police did not expect, according to Kulhawik. Traffic was stopped on both sides of the highway for about half an hour.
Video by Harold F. Cobin at end of story
“Our voices are being heard,” Brianna Green said, speaking to a crowd estimated by Kulhawik to be of about 300 people, observing that the Minneapolis police officer who has inspired protests nationwide, and in some other countries, is facing intensified charges.
Officer Derek Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd on May 25, but those charges have been upgraded to second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin was caught in video pressing a knee to Floyd’s neck as Floyd complained, “I can’t breathe.” The video has been seen worldwide and the four officers involved were fired; the other three are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder, as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
It’s not enough that the protests have gotten results, Green said Saturday. “Because God forbid if this were to happen again, no way this shouldn’t have even taken us this long to come together as a family. This is a family, right? And everybody’s here, right? You guys are going to protect each other and everything and honestly, I’m loving the diversity here.”
The march began at Norwalk City Hall, and the crowd seemed to be about the same size as the one a week ago, with similar demographics. Protestors entered the highway at Exit 16 and police helped stop traffic. Police then rushed to close down the northbound side, as protestors jumped the barrier. A car swerved out of the way and missed one of them, Kulhawik said.
Gabrielle Paulk was among the speakers at the police station.
“I’m not a big fan of doing protests before, I’m like, what’s it gonna do? Like, what am I really achieving with this? It’s kind of like repetitive cycle,” he said.
But he grew up and became educated, and, “I found all these problems going on in my community as well, and my people as well, and I see all these mental issues going on with my people as well,” he said. “It’s beautiful seeing everyone here. Not just my people, it’s everyone, everyone come in here in solidarity for what happened, in solidarity to each other. It means something, we’re helping each other heal. That’s an important process that we don’t take enough time to pay attention to.”