Mayor, police chief ask residents to kneel for 8½ minutes Thursday 

  • Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle FILE PHOTO

  • Easthampton Police Chief Robert Alberti GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/2/2020 4:12:44 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The mayor and chief of police are inviting city residents to join them in kneeling for 8½ minutes Thursday to protest racism and the recent killing of George Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis who died after a white police officer pinned him to the ground by kneeling on his neck for nearly 9 minutes May 25.

“Wherever you are in the city of Easthampton, we’re inviting you to join us, for 8½ minutes to reflect,” Mayor Nicole LaChapelle said.

City officials said small groups will be gathering around the city at 4 p.m. to kneel in memory of those lost to brutality and to protest Floyd’s death.

Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. That officer, Derek Chauvin, now faces both a manslaughter and a third-degree murder charge. State and independent autopsies have both concluded that Floyd’s death was a homicide.

In the wake of Floyd’s death, protests have broken out across the country and locally, some of which have been marked by violence.

“We hold no delusion that our leadership is perfect or that the city is without the darkness of injustice, racism, and hate,” said LaChapelle and Police Chief Robert Alberti, in a statement released Monday announcing Thursday’s event. “We carry that responsibility seriously, along with a responsibility to relentlessly self-examine Easthampton’s government and hold accountable those who believe they are above or outside the law.”

The mayor said that it took her some time to get through the video of Floyd’s killing.

“We watched him die on camera, as he was asking for his mother,” she said.

She also described the officer’s behavior as “repulsive.”

“The man who had his knee on neck looked so nonchalant,” she said.

Those kneeling on Thursday are encouraged to wear face coverings and stand at least six feet apart from those with whom they do not live. The mayor said that people can choose to assemble with others, but can also choose to take a knee outside of their own homes instead. One place where people will be gathering is the rotary on Main Street.

The mayor said that she and the police chief will be kneeling either outside the Municipal Building at 50 Payson Ave. or the Public Safety Complex at 32 Payson Ave.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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