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Cleveland Officials Address George Floyd's Death Ahead Of Saturday Protests

Cleveland city officials are prepared for Saturday protests against police brutality, said Mayor Frank Jackson at a Friday press conference.

“We believe and we know that people have a right to be angry, and a right to be upset based on what we know,” Jackson said. “They also have a right to demonstrate that anger and upsetness through protests and demonstrations.”

The city supports those efforts, Jackson said. But officials also plan to protect the “rights of the public,” he said, violence or destruction of property will not be tolerated in Cleveland.

“There’s a pent-up anger that has demonstrated itself with recent events across the country,” Jackson said. “People have a right to be upset and angry and to protest, and to express themselves.”

The protest scheduled for Saturday comes after a viral video showing a Minneapolis police officer using his knee to pin an African American man to the ground by his neck for several minutes. The African American man, George Floyd, ultimately died in police custody, and the video ultimately led to the firing of the officer, Derek Chauvin, as well as that of the three other officers seen in the video,as well as Chauvin’s arrest.

The incident has sparked outrage and protests nationwide, including demonstrations in Columbus this week which resulted in broken windows at the Ohio Statehouse.

Cleveland police will work to ensure safety during the protests this weekend, Chief Calvin Williams said.

“I stand on both sides of this issue as a man of color and as a police officer who cares about this city and the people in it,” Williams said. “We just want to make sure that folks understand that we feel you, we definitely want to make sure everybody is safe and exercising their constitutional rights.”

Protestors are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing as much as possible, Williams said. Officers will also wear protective masks when possible, he said.

“We are still in a pandemic, and as our restrictions are removed, the likelihood of people being infected or dying from the virus is greater,” Mayor Jackson said. “So that means we have to double down or triple down on those preventive measures that help to protect people and their families.”

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish also released a Friday statement regarding Floyd’s death and the resulting protests.

“This is a scene that we have seen played out again and again and it is unconscionable. All Americans, regardless of race, religion, or nationality, must speak out against racism,” Budish said. “I fully support the peaceful expression of protest over Floyd’s untimely and terrible death.”

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