You are the owner of this article.
Massive crowd gathers for vigil, march in honor of George Floyd
breaking top story

Massive crowd gathers for vigil, march in honor of George Floyd

{{featured_button_text}}

Standing on the tailgate of a pickup, the Rev. Dee Lundberg glanced at her phone. The crowd in front of her, several hundred strong, was silent.

Lundberg had called for eight minutes and 46 seconds of quiet. That's how long a Minneapolis police officer held his knee onto the neck of George Floyd. That officer kept his knee there, pressing Floyd into the concrete as Floyd called out for his mother. He told the officer he couldn't breathe. Then he became unresponsive. The officer kept his knee in place.

Lundberg stood with her head down.

Time ticked slowly. After what seemed like an eternity, she spoke into her megaphone.

"It's only been three minutes," Lundberg said, before repeating what Floyd had said: "I can't breathe."

As the silence continued, one demonstrator threw a fist in the air. A second, third, fourth, 50th, 100th followed suit, the crowd suddenly stood in uniform silence and defiance of the status quo.

"Eight minutes is a long time," Lundberg said, breaking the spell.

The protesters then turned and marched down David Street, the front rows walking with their arms linked. One woman began to sing.

The march was part of a vigil organized by the Pikes Peak Southern Christian Leadership Conference and held Friday evening in downtown Casper. It was the latest in a set of demonstrations in Casper following a groundswell of protests nationwide against racism and police brutality centered on the death of Floyd. Floyd, a black man, was in handcuffs when officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd told the officer he couldn't breathe, called out for his mother and then became unresponsive.

Chauvin and three other officers involved were fired after bystander video footage gained public attention. The four former officers face criminal charges. Prosecutors have charged Chauvin with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Friday evening's event, billed as a call for unity against racism, included speeches from the steps of the Hall of Justice. During the set of five speeches that together composed about an hour, speakers asked for unity in the face of racism and change to laws as well as reformed policing practices.

Mariah Bovee, the fourth speaker of the evening, made the most direct call for reform. During her remarks, she called for five specific policy implementations: creation of a citizen/first responders board; the immediate firing of any officer when they turn off body-worn cameras, cover their badges or force a person to stop recording; screening officers for bias as a condition of employment; and implementing anti-racist and deescalation training if what is now in place is not sufficient.

Bovee then called for the replacement of every lawmaker who does not work to tear down oppression. 

The two speakers prior to Bovee, Shawn Wiggins -- a local school teacher -- and Meeshla Bovee -- Mariah's 15-year-old daughter -- both asked for unity and understanding. Wiggins, to close his remarks, said that Casper has good police officers.

“But to flip that script," he said. "We're not gonna let the bad ones off the hook.”

After the younger Bovee spoke, Police Chief Keith McPheeters -- the evening's only white speaker -- then took the microphone. 

The police chief said the moment of silence held earlier was an awful long time and added his officers understand that. He'd like them to be there, he said, but he had to assign police elsewhere.

When police watched the video of Floyd's death, "we were ashamed," McPheeters said.

Keisha Simmons then gave closing remarks. "It is time to stop being tolerating and to start being accepted," Simmons said. "If you must destroy: destroy racism, injustice, racial profiling and hate."

Standing on the tailgate of a pickup truck, Reverend Dee Lundberg glanced at her phone. The crowd in front of her, several hundred strong, was silent. 
Lundberg had called for eight minutes and 48 seconds of quiet. That's how long a Minneapolis police officer held his knee onto the neck of George Floyd. That officer kept his knee there, pressing Floyd into the concrete, as Floyd called out for his mother. He told the officer he couldn't breathe. Then he became unresponsive. The officer kept his knee in place.
Lundberg stood with her head down. 
Time ticked slowly. After it seemed like an eternity, like it must have, had to have been eight minutes and 48 seconds, she spoke into her megaphone.
"It's only been three minutes," Lundberg said, before repeating what Floyd had said: "I can't breathe." 
As the silence continued, one demonstrator threw their fist in the air. A second, third, fourth, 50th, 100th followed suit, the crowd suddenly stood in uniform silence and defiance of the status quo.
"Eight minutes is a long time," Lundberg said, breaking the spell.
The protesters turned and marched down David Street, the front rows walking with their arms linked. One woman began to sing.
 
 
7
4
0
5
5

Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson joined the Star-Tribune in 2017. He covers courts and law enforcement agencies in Natrona County and across the state. Shane studied journalism at the University of Missouri and worked at newspapers there before moving to Wyoming.

Education and Health Reporter

Seth Klamann joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 and covers education and health. A 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri and proud Kansas City native, Seth worked for newspapers in Milwaukee and Omaha before coming to Casper.

Local Government Reporter

Morgan Hughes primarily covers local government. After growing up in rural Wisconsin, she graduated from Marquette University in 2018. She moved to Wyoming shortly after and covered education in Cheyenne before joining the Star-Tribune in May 2019.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News