George Floyd Protests Continue

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

As they have in other parts of the country, protests against police brutality against black citizens, particularly black men have continued in Knoxville. Yesterday afternoon a group of around 300 people met in Krutch Park, marched to the Gay Street viaduct, paused there for a few minutes and walked back down Gay Street to the park and dispersed. For those concerned about the spread of the virus: They wore masks. Overwhelmingly.

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

There was no violence during the march (and I’m hoping as I write this there is none overnight) and leaders repeatedly reminded the marchers that this was a non-violent protest. Police were nearby and seemed ready for the march down Gay Street even though they had not blocked traffic there. They did block Summit at the intersection of Gay to allow the group to pass.

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

Many of the signs referenced George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis ignited the protests nationwide, some with his last words, “I can’t breathe.” The video has caused outrage across the country as the footage is so difficult to watch. We only know this happened because it was filmed, of course, which raises the question of how many times does this happen when it isn’t recorded.

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

While a number of signs in the march referenced Black Lives Matter, that organization did not participate in the march. Like the action last Saturday, word of it circulated through the day, but for many of us, it was difficult to discern who planned it. Given the recent and ongoing violence, this could matter. I was told by someone at the march that it was organized through a U.T. group, but I’m still not sure.

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

As with a number of other marches nationwide, this one included people of all races. It closely reflected Knoxville’s racial make up in that an overwhelming majority of the participants were white. Some carried signs acknowledging that implicitly, calling for empathy for black Americans.

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

As much as the police maintained a presence, they were almost invisible. There was no riot gear or armored vehicles in sight. There were no confrontations. The police seemed content to allow the march to sort itself out without interference. Scheduled to begin at 5:00 pm, the whole thing was over around 6:00 pm and the crowd was encouraged to go home.

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

Historic, systemic and ongoing racism and targeting of black men, whether being gunned down in Georgia while jogging or killed beneath a knee of a policeman in Minnesota has to be confronted, acknowledged and repudiated if our country is ever going to heal. This may be a necessary step. In this moment, Knoxville did it well. As I write this I hear the police helicopters over downtown and hope it holds.

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020

George Floyd Protest, Knoxville, June 2020


  1. So proud that tonight so far as you reported that there was no property damage or civilians being physically hurt!! Out of respect to George Floyd and his family.. he would be so against killings, people being hurt and property damage!! It’s just WRONG what the officer did and the officers that stood back!! His family stands strong that that is all he/his family want to be dealt with!!

    • Did you know him personally? I assume you did if you say “He would be so against killings, people being hurt, and property damage.” Property damage shouldn’t even be in your sentence. I’m sure he was against killings, and then he was killed. I’m sure he was against people being hurt, then people started protesting peacefully and police are the ones who are hurting innocent people. Do I like the property damage? NO. Am I going to sit here and say how black people should react this this injustice? NO. Am I going to say something ridiculously insensitive like “George Floyd, a human who I never knew, who died from police brutality wouldn’t feel too good about vandalism. HELL NO. Check your privilege.

      • Well said.

      • Downtown Worker says

        He was a Christian and was actively involved in ministry work. It’s not a stretch to say he wouldn’t condone killing, people being hurt, and property damage. Those should never be condoned by anyone, and his death doesn’t condone it either.

        • Floyd holding a pregnant woman at gunpoint and robbing and physically abusing her after he and 4 others pushed there way into her home mustve been what really killed him, oh no, I think it was covid! Stop making a hero out of a thug!

          • Oslo Cole says

            So you’re saying he deserved to die under the knee of a police officer? Do all black men with a criminal history deserve to die in such a fashion?

      • Great job tacitly defending vandalism and criminal behavior, “Alan!” If you’re going to sit there and avoid passing judgment about rioting and looting, then you’re part of the problem.

        I don’t care at all about my “privilege;” if you think that I can’t say what is and is not an appropriate reaction to this “injustice,” then you’re absolutely out of your mind.

        • It was three windows and a flower pot. Get over it.

          • Not nationwide, obviously, and nothing in my the comment thread to which you’re replying implies a focus solely on local vandalism.

            Do try and keep up, Jeremy.

        • You can’t. Simple as that. You can say how you feel about it, but like me you don’t get to pass judgment on what is and is not right. Just because you or I believe it does not make it fact. It is simple for me, I value a human life more than the monetary loss of some minor vandalism. I also happen to believe that the real problem isn’t vandalism, but rather police brutality focused mostly on people of color. So no, I’m my opinion you are part of the problem. It is almost my opinion that you saying that you don’t care about your “privilege” only shows your privilege and that you in fact are a racist.

          • This has nothing to do with opinion; rioting and vandalism is wrong in a legal sense.

            Police brutality and rioting/vandalism are both wrong and, the longer this behavior continues, the less patience people are going to have for the peaceful protesting occurring across the country.

          • Perfect example of what our political discourse has come to when people disagree. Instead of having any type of debate, one side automatically just pulls the “you’re a racist” card out of their back pocket, to someone they’ve never met or don’t know.

            Two wrongs don’t make a right.

            Police Brutality is WRONG.
            Racial Profiling is WRONG.
            The militarization of police is WRONG.
            Suffocating a restrained individual until they are dead is WRONG.
            Rioting and destroying other peoples things that have absolutely nothing to do with what happened is WRONG.

            We can all do better.

          • I completely support peaceful protests. They are a God-given right protected by the Constitution.

            That being said, looting and rioting is not. How about we ask the local minority business owners in Minneapolis and other cities whose businesses were destroyed in the riots how they feel about it. How about we ask the residents of the affordable living building that was burned if it was right or wrong. How about we talk to the family of the black business owner who was killed by rioters if they understand why he had to die.

            Right is right, and wrong is wrong. Yes, it was dispicably wrong that George Floyd died like he did. It is also wrong that the local businesses and residents are being victimized by the looters and rioters in these cities.

          • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

            I don’t think we disagree.

      • Thank you for this response! It’s important to not to lose sight of why people are protesting: because black Americans are killed and brutalized and underpaid and racially profiled at alarming rates, and have been since the founding of our country. Focusing on the way people are protesting, or trying to speak for someone else, takes away from the important work of recognizing the hurt of black Americans and taking on their struggle alongside of them. Proud of Knoxville for protesting against injustice!

      • I wonder if he thought about peace when he forced his way into a pregnant woman’s home and pressed a pistol to her belly while his gang ransacked her home? He may have continued his violent life of crime here in America but he was far from an American.

        • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

          He was, in fact, convicted of those things. Over a decade ago and by all accounts served his time and was never arrested again. Moved to a new place to get another start. I’ve never defended him and his past isn’t the point. The officer who put a knee to his neck didn’t know any of that. He was an American.

    • That’s odd. he didn’t seem to be “so against people being hurt and property damage” a few years ago when he committed a home invasion, held a pregnant woman at gunpoint, and then robbed her place while one of his buddies pistol-whipped her.


      This doesn’t excuse his killing, but you may want to re-think your assumptions about him.

      • Downtown Worker says

        In your source he is characterized as finding a new life for himself and turning his life around.

      • I will not speak to the validity of your source, as I do not intend to read it. It does nothing but push a useless and racist narrative. I have made no assumptions of George Floyd other than the assumption that he was human who was murdered by a corrupt officer who was a part of a corrupt system that has failed the people it is intended to serve.

        • Facts you don’t wish to acknowledge = useless and racist. Got it.

          • You’re missing the point. I am not arguing that they are or are not facts. I am simply stating that I do not need to know the facts because regardless of them, I do not think they warranted his death. I am not the person who spoke for him and said he wouldn’t have wanted people hurt or property damaged, I don’t claim to know anything about him other than he was murdered for no reason. His previous wrong doings were not the cause of him being murdered. Pointing back to the actual problem, police brutality of black people.

  2. Hey Alan,

    Thank you for this post.
    I would like to ask your readers of the African American community – What can I do to help? I’ve read dozens of books on the subject and participated in peaceful protests in the cities where I’ve lived. I feel like I’m not doing enough.
    Can I humbly ask for guidance?

  3. Kristina says

    Rather than put that burden on them (I’ve learned this the hard way), we white people can do our own research on this question. Here is a good list to start:

    • Thank you Kristina! Education and ownership is critical to better equality and racial justice for all humans. We were created diverse for a reason and should spend our lives exploring and supporting this. Knoxville has been a challenge living here coming from a diverse city where being a black construction project manager was at least possible. I spent years here being one of a kind and consistently discouraged. Clients, subs and vendors never assumed I was the manager. Even managing and building The Crozier was a consistent challenge from within our team. Yet I remain grateful for what God can do to diversify families, people, cities, states, nations, and the world.

    • Thank you.

  4. Melita Duffy says

    We saw some of the activity from afar on the 100 end of Gay St. It looked and sounded peaceful. After a few minutes the group headed up Gay, so we walked up to Krutch Park, where they stopped, and listened a bit. According to a couple of people we talked to, the organizers are in the Tennessee Youth Liberation Front, and information about the march was spread on Twitter. Good to see this support here in Knoxville.

    • The TN YLF did not organize this. Some of us were there in solidarity but we did not organize it.

  5. This was not a racial motivated murder. I can call it a murder, because the police officer went to far in restraining the individual he was trying to place into custody.

    The police must be held more accountable for the crimes they commit against civilians, that is fact and unfortunately they get away with it more than not.

    This is not and should not be a black, white or hispanic issue. This should be and is a human issue/concern. I applaud the peaceful protests, but what I don’t applaud are the unruly kids taking advantage of this senseless death and vandalizing and mayhem. They didn’t do it for the victim, they did it for themselves. They see all the national headlines, and simply want to try to get attention by making there own headlines. Police should be accountable, “we the people”, are accountable for voting for the police chief we want in office, to assure the citizens, the police force will be made up of those who abide by and law rather than create their own laws. We the people vote for that individual/police chief who if needed will hold his or her force accountable at these times of injustice. Luckily Minneapolis did have such. But I also say the parents of the unruly who caused havoc white, black, blue or purple, should also be held accountable for the actions of there kids.

    The fact that only a few “large” pane windows were smashed, a few large planters were destroyed, it does not negate the fact there intentions were more. There would most definitely been more havoc caused if it were not for the KPD who held strong. These kids who caused the havoc, were even protesting on the square today over being charged with assualting a police officer, because he only threw water on him, news flash that is assaulting.

    No one should be singled out, during these times. It is surely not the 60’s or 70’s anymore. We, everyone, all of us white, black hispanic, big or tall have to start being part of the solution and not the problem.

    • Oslo Cole says

      Dean are you kidding me? This incident had NOTHING to do with race?! On what planet are you living on because it isn’t this one! To say that George Floyd’s death had nothing to do with race is not only ignorant, it’s psychosis.

      And you know what else? I’m sick and tired of hearing people equate property damage to the loss of a human life. Property can be repaired or replaced, a human life cannot. Anyone equating the two might be suffering from an undiagnosed case of covert racism.

      I’m sorry if that offends you or anyone else, but you know what offends me? Another black man killed on the streets by people who have taken an oath to protect and serve. AND people who attempt to dismiss it by claiming race wasn’t a factor or property damage is just as bad.

      • The property damage isn’t “just as bad,” it’s worse. These riots are an absolutely ridiculous reaction to a a very unjust incident of police brutality that cost a man his life; I understand being angry, but the (likely) murder of one man doesn’t justify what we’re seeing on the streets today… especially when situations like Floyd’s are on the decline.

        • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

          This isn’t a contest between bad things. If someone in your family was the person killed, brutalized or imprisoned, you might have a different reading of the equation and many black families have had those experiences. Destroying property isn’t a good thing and it isn’t likely to help anything. Here, the people doing the damage have been mostly white. In Nashville, the courthouse was burned by a white man who, at the least, doesn’t seem to have any sympathies for black struggles. The riots, in many cases like those, are not a reaction to anything, but are an excuse to be destructive. I would also like to see your evidence that these kinds of situations are on decline. We never even know that most of them happen.

        • Oslo Cole says

          So let me get this straight, you think property damage is WORSE than killing someone? So if someone vandalizes your car, you think their punishment should be WORSE than if someone kills you? Noooo, that’s not what you’re saying is it? What you’re saying is property damage is worse than killing a BLACK man.

          You might as well go ahead and admit it and while you’re at it, look yourself in the mirror and say these words “I am a racist and I know it.” Admitting it to yourself is the first step. You don’t even have to admit it to us because we already know.

          BTW, I looked at the graphs you provided indicating that fatal shootings of black men is declining and decided to follow the link at the bottom of the one you claim is from the Washington Post. (The other graphs you provided don’t include a source reference… which isn’t at all suspicious?) To my surprise (NOT!), I was unable to find the graph you referenced.

          I did happen upon the link below though which indicates that police shootings have remained steady over the last 5 years and that black men are disproportionately the victims of these shootings.

          Right wing trolls, so predictable. Constantly claiming everyone else is spreading fake news when you’re actually the ones doing so. Such a shame. As if your credibility or your opinions weren’t already in question, you go and do a thing like that. Sad!

          • Yes, Oslo, the sum total of what we’ve witnessed this past week far exceeds the death of George Floyd. You can play the victim card all you’d like, but you’re coming across as a man incapable of removing emotion from a discussion whose last resort is to squawk “racist” ad nauseam.

            Also, while I’m “at it,” perhaps I should explain the graphs a little more. All of the links I provided are very easily identifiable through said links and a basic understanding of search engines, but the count of black people killed by police stems from here ( while the others are readily-identifiable as stemming from WaPo through a site called TheSocietyPages and Twitter.

            What you’re attempting to do is take the WaPo shootings database, which is indeed related to the aforementioned graphs, and lazily latch onto the first figures listed without doing any digging. Police shootings have remained steady, but none of my graphs ever attempted to claim anything to the contrary; instead, I would direct you to the bottom of the page where some light manipulation of the raw data allows you to focus in on some interesting trends.

            But, by all means, continue to think that everyone who doesn’t buy into your nonsense worldview is just a “troll.” Like most Americans, I draw a distinction between protests over injustice and the absolute mayhem with which you have shockingly little concern.

          • Oslo Cole says

            So i take it that you didn’t do the homework assignment i gave you?

            And of course i’m emotional. Many people are because that’s what happens when someone’s life is taken needlessly. For you to minimize our upset by callously claiming we’re being emotional is an insult, but that’s what trolls do i guess.

            Speaking of trolls, a troll is someone who goes on message boards such as these posting fake charts, claiming moral superiority all while hiding behind a fake screen name. Processing… yes, it appears you check all of the boxes so guess what, you’re a troll AND a racist. Ding ding ding, congratulations!

            And as for your fake charts, you still haven’t provided a direct link for the source of any of the ones you posted. They must have come from somewhere, but they most certainly didn’t come from WaPo or PBS which is why you can’t provide a direct link to them on either of those sites.

            Did you make them up or did you pull them from some right wing source that you’re afraid to provide because you know it would invalidate your opinion? Let me put your mind at ease on that front. Few if any on this message board take your POV as valid so you have nothing to worry about.

            Now get to that homework assignment I gave you post haste!

          • Oslo, your emotions really are getting the best of you; I supplied a very clear link to the PBS article, provided clear instructions to provide TheSocietyPages ( and explained how you too can use WaPo’s database to recreate the data seen in the third chart.

            It’s very hard to have a reasonable conversation with someone who’s being so disingenuous and trying to levy claims of “racism” instead of defending their position. I get that you’re worked up about Floyd, but I would assume that most impartial readers don’t view your aggressive, reference-less replies as stemming from a voice of reason. You seem like a good person, but these replies feel disjointed and angry.

          • Oslo Cole says

            So basically you’re admitting that you created these graphs yourself? So we’re just supposed to take them at face value or attempt to recreate them ourselves? And if we don’t go through your multi-step process to attempt to recreate them, we’re being lazy? Please, give me a break.

            And yeah, d@mn right i’m angry. I have every right to be especially when a racist like you attempts to minimize that anger or attempts to use it against me as if it’s something i should be ashamed of or that my opinion should be disregarded because of it.

            And i’m not the only one who’s angry either. There are literally MILLIONS of Americans of all races who are as well. Are you saying that anger isn’t justifiable in this instance? Are any emotions justifiable in your opinion or are we all supposed to be calm, docile, unfeeling robots?

            Also please tell me what references i should be providing you? You’re the one making outlandish claims that police violence against blacks is declining using graphs you created yourself. What statements have i made that you feel needs to be supported by evidence?

            BTW, i know you probably don’t like being called a racist or a troll, but you sure do seem to fit the description of both. But i guess that’s just my unjustifiably angry opinion.

            Oh yeah and i almost forgot. Your opinion of me means less than zero so please spare me your condescendingly faint praise. Thanks!

          • If you see links to three separate sites and somehow think that I created these graphs, Oslo, then your ignorance is simply beyond hope. Again, you can manipulate the WaPo database yourself and see firsthand the decline evidenced in these graphs.

            I’m sorry, though unsurprised, that you’re not willing to look at the data in front of you but acting as if facts are “racist” is an embarrassing look.

          • Oslo Cole says

            I’m not saying facts are racist, i’m saying YOU are racist.

          • Which, again, is the last refuge of someone without a more sensible/constructive way to vocalize their opinions and viewpoint.

          • Oslo Cole says

            Well if the hood fits… You know what, just realized something. Fake screen names ARE the white hoods of the modern age!

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Dean, I’m not sure how you know the motivation of the policeman. We know that black men are more likely to be confronted, profiled, arrested, hurt and killed by police. Black men feel that every day when they walk down the street. Black parents fear it every day when their sons and husbands go out into the world. It’s real.

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