A vigil was held in Central Park in Charles City on Friday night to commemorate George Floyd, the man who died in Minneapolis Police custody on Memorial Day, and the ongoing protesting in the nation and world in response to his death.
The vigil was headlined by an 8 minute and 46 second silence to mirror the amount of time Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck before his death. A length of time many who attended called, ‘very long’.
Mayor Dean Andrews spoke about proximity leading to empathy (an ideology about attempting to get closer to the issue through conversation), Police Chief Hugh Anderson handed out candles and talked to vigil attendees, and community members of all colors spoke openly about their experiences.
Student Justin Hoefer says when he found out about the vigil he was ecstatic.
Hoefer wanted it to be known he had no problem with the police officers in town and that he didn’t agree with the looting and rioting – and called for people to stop.
Another student Christian Hughes says the George Floyd death was ‘avoidable’.
Coming into the night, many rumors were circulating about possible violence.
The vigil organizer, Christine Bauer, said in a June 2nd Facebook post:
“If you plan to be violent, please remain home.”
The 100-plus people and several police officers in attendance of the vigil kept the event peaceful.
At least one city official in Charles City decided against attending the vigil. Councilwoman Phoebe Pittman came out on Facebook before the event telling everyone she would not be attending an event ‘so loosely organized that it lacks a clear focus and clear widespread support of community leaders from multiple groups’.
She went on to say:
“I fully understand that no demonstration will be perfectly planned (sometimes the best ones aren’t) and that even in the best of circumstances things can still go wrong. I also strongly believe that it is the black voices in my community that need to be elevated right now and a demonstration planned without those voices is not just missing the mark, it’s maybe aiming at a whole different target.”