Police ask protesters to continue without lying in intersections

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 7:07 PM EDT
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Busy interactions, including the one at Pennsylvania Avenue and Washington Street, see accidents all the time. But police say a dangerous and deadly situation could have happened Monday.

"We certainly support why they are protesting. However to lay in the middle of the street is very dangerous. We do not condone that at all," said Charleston Police Department Deputy Chief Scott Dempsey.

Protest organizer Calynn Wills says it was part of their plan -- to lie in the street for for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the time George Floyd was pinned by a Minneapolis officer. She said she spoke with CPD not before the protest, but after.

"He just said, 'make sure nobody is laying in the street,' and I said 'that's fine, we are going to lock arms instead,' " Wills said.

She said she's still going to block streets.

"I came into a different perspective because there is kids with us," Wills said. "Anytime we march by the courthouse, we are going to block that off and then end in our protest we block right here off."

Crosswalks line all four sides of the intersection. Vehicles travel north on Pennsylvania Avenue, veering left to the interstate or continuing north on Pennsylvania. The road that crosses, Washington Street, leads west to the West Side.

Elizabeth Turner said she goes that way to work each day.

"Very busy, that's a very, very busy intersection," Turner said.

Tray Coleman owns a barbershop on Washington Street East. He said this is how people can be heard.

"They want to be heard and sometimes the only way a person can be heard is to do something so you can see him," Coleman said.

Both Turner and Coleman said it is time to listen to what the protesters have to say.

"I think it's a time for listening," Turner said.

CPD said they support these protests, explaining they're just worried about the protesters' safety.

"All the city leaders have made it very clear that we would entertain speaking with the coordinator of a protest at any time," said Deputy Chief Dempsey.

Wills said she would not get in the road anymore, especially with children involved.

"No, we are not just trying to block the streets cause we are mad ... everything is for a reason," she said.