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Protesters joined by Green Bay Police while marching downtown for George Floyd

Posted at 1:02 AM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 02:02:06-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) -- In a powerful moment of unity between police and protesters, Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith joined peaceful demonstrations downtown in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis Police custody.

"I saw that video that you all saw," Chief Smith said. "Just like you, I was sickened. It was one of the most horrible things I've ever seen. To watch to watch a police officer wearing the uniform that I wear proudly doing something as despicable as that. I said to myself, 'that's murder right there,' and sure enough, three days later he was arrested."

After marching across the Main and Walnut Street bridges, protesters spoke passionately about racial inequality while gathered right outside the Green Bay police station.

Organizers Angela Colmenares and Paola Yozemin, both Green Bay residents, wanted a peaceful protest to stand with minorities and other emotional demonstrators across the country.

"A lot of people think 'oh, Green Bay's such a small [city], we don't really have to do much, leave it to the bigger cities,'" Colmenares said. "But I feel like Green Bay is part of America. We all need to come together -- as many little cities as we can. It counts."

The protest lasted for more than two hours between Broadway and Washington streets. Green Bay Police blocked traffic for hundreds to exercise their First Amendment rights.

"We want to establish a peaceful culture," Commander Kevin Warych said. "A community where people have the right to assemble and people have the right to protest."

"Thank you all for being here," Chief Smith said. "Thank you for peacefully demonstrating. This is as American as apple pie. This is what America is all about."

"In the days of Martin Luther King, peaceful protest is what makes change, so thank you for being here," Chief Smith said. "Thanks for being a part of the change."