Peaceful protest on Public Square

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Three more Minneapolis police officers have been charged in connection with the death of George Floyd, who died while in police custody.

Charges were also elevated to second degree murder for the former officer initially arrested five days ago. Since then, protests have popped up daily across the country and in our region. Wednesday afternoon, another demonstration took place on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. This time it was started by a high school student.

“We are done asking. We are done begging and we are done dying. We are done,” Wyoming Valley West freshman and organizer Lakina Hughes said.

A week of protests across the nation and local protesters say the message is growing stronger.

“It’s not that we, as black people, don’t think our lives matter. It’s just that we have to say it. I think it’s very powerful to see everybody out here screaming black lives matter just so that you can hear it,” Connie Johnson of Wilkes-Barre said.

A passionate cry for change organized by our youth as more than 300 people packed Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, including Mayor George Brown and Police Chief Joe Coffey.

“It was really important to us that we get our message out and just to remember that it is supposed to remain peaceful. But at the same time, we need to be heard and we will not be silenced,” Wyoming Valley West freshman and organizer Kaylee McNeill said.

Elijah Scretching, who recently returned from overseas service in the Marine Corps, says he shouldn’t have to show a military ID just to prove he’s here for constructive change, not destructive acts.

“What if that was a regular ID? They would have kept questioning me and questioning me and trying to incriminate me just because they see me. Most likely it’s because of the color of my skin,’ Scretching said.

Mayor Brown says it’s important to show solidarity with the movement.

“You belong here. We want you here and we want you to protest. We want you to exercise your rights,” Brown said.

“It shows there is change and there’s people in higher places standing with us,” Hughes said.

Organizers were adamant on keeping the protest peaceful and on message. They believe in growing communities demanding equality and justice for all.

“I was happy that people of all cultures, colors, they’re supporting us no matter what and they’re going to stand with us,” Wyoming Valley West freshman and organizer Winter Jenkins said.

“That means so much because we’re not alone which means we are one step closer to fixing the problem. This is not a trend. This is not just something that we’re doing. This is our lives at stake,” McNeill said.

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