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Local protests peaceful despite nationwide looting, violence

Posted at 6:29 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 20:32:19-04

The release of cellphone video of George Floyd's death and the arrest of one of the officers involved in the case have fueled nearly a week of rioting and looting across the country.

There have been peaceful protests in the Coastal Bend, and everyone from organizers to the police are working to keep them that way.

Sunday’s protest at City Hall was one of many across the country, as Americans voiced opposition to police brutality. Unlike many other cities, this protest stayed peaceful.

Corpus Christi and Minneapolis are separated by more than 1,000 miles. That distance has never been closer, as locals protested a Minneapolis man’s death at the hands of police.

“It was about standing in solidarity with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and all the other people who have been victims of police brutality,” said defense attorney Matt Manning, who attended the protest.

While some participants were armed, the protest, which was organized by Black Lives Matter, was peaceful. Corpus Christi Police Department Chief Michael Markle was there, and was impressed -- but not surprised -- that everyone behaved.

“We have folks here who love this community, and by all means, if they feel the need to express themselves, we encourage them to do so,” he said.

“It makes me proud of Corpus Christi," said Corpus Christi Human Relations Commission Chairwoman Laura Commons. "That’s the way we want to keep it. We don’t want looting and a bunch of damage done to private property.”

In several cities, protests were accompanied by violence and looting. Manning, a former prosecutor, said looting hurts the protestors' cause, and distracts from their message.

“Looting is a symptom, it is not the actual disease,” Manning said. “The disease is racism, injustice, and oppression we’ve seen for a long time in our society.”

CCPD doesn’t have the track record of abuse and brutality that other departments have. But in today’s climate, Markle believes strong community relations are more important now than ever before.

“Things that happen elsewhere do affect professions as a whole," he said. "We’re not immune to that.”

CCPD said nobody was arrested during the protests, and there was only minor damage at police headquarters. Markle said Sunday’s protest didn’t require a permit because peaceful assembly is a first-amendment right.

“We need to continue to have good community relations, but we also need to to be ever-vigilant to not ever let anything like that happen here,” Manning said.