A protest in solidarity with a national movement became a local outcry against police abuse in Florissant on the evening of Sunday, June 7. Two hours after demonstrators marched through Florissant demanding justice for George Floyd, they made their way to the Florissant Police department demanding answers. The group gathered a day after video footage obtained by Real STL News of a Florissant police officer running a man down in an unmarked car during an arrest became national news.
In the clip, a 20-year-old man was seen getting hit by the car and then violently arrested in the 9800 block of Eastdell Drive on June 2, according to Real STL News. The footage shows the man screaming in pain – and for help – while complying during the arrest.
Within the post Real STL news says that the man “went to the hospital with several injuries.” According to the Real STL News Facebook page, there is no body cam footage because the detective was not wearing one at the time of the arrest.
The 50 or so protestors, led by Ferguson frontline protester Bishop Derrick Robinson, wanted answers and disciplinary action.
Florissant police confirmed the detective, identified by Real STL News as Joshua Smith – who was seen driving the unmarked vehicle over the man’s body twice – has been suspended with pay.
“That’s a vacation,” Robinson said. “We will be out here every day until that officer is fired and arrested.”
They marched, they chanted. “We got our hands up on our heads, please don’t shoot us dead.”
Robinson And other leaders asked black men to come to the front of the line during the protest in front of the police department to lie on the ground for eight minutes in solidarity with George Floyd.
Protestors yelled out “mama” and screamed “I can’t breathe” while laying with their arms crossed behind their back, simulating Floyd’s fatal arrest by a Minneapolis Police Officer.
For the final 90 seconds, they had a moment of silence.
Before starting to march, a local victim of police brutality shared their experience with police brutality.
“Even if you can’t be out here, your moral support means everything.” The victim said.
At the intersection of Lindbergh and New Florissant Road, protestors blocked off cars and continued down New Florissant road.
Organizer Clara Holmes addressed officers facing the crowd.
The Florissant protest differed from many other demonstrations that took place over the course of the weekend in that there was a National Guard presence. Three police officers also faced the protest with M16 rifles.
Protestors voiced their anger – directing their messages at the soldiers. Some put their goggles on as police clenched their pepper spray. A group of officers positioned behind the soldiers loaded a tear gas canister, though they did not fire it.
Two police officers engaged in conversations with protest leaders that were present during the Ferguson unrest. In a moment of solidarity, the officer admitted the frustration with the incident involving the vehicle caught on camera was an emotion that other officers shared with the protestors.
“I understand,” the officer said as he talked with the veteran protestor. “We have people back here who are just as upset as you are.”
The crowd dispersed around 11:30 p.m. but vowed to return to Florissant at 6 p.m. tomorrow (Monday, June 8) – and every day until Joshua Smith is arrested.