On Wednesday, several hundred locals gathered in City Park and marched around its perimeter to protest against police brutality, marking one of many events of its kind in the Manhattan community in solidarity with protests nationwide after the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
Attendees donned black clothing and held up signs with messages like “Black Lives Matter,” “Hate heals no one” and “White silence is violence.”
A handful of Riley County Police Department officers stood watch around City Park, and two officers on bikes traced the march’s route ahead of the crowd.
This protest came after Tuesday’s march down Bluemont Avenue, attended by a crowd of about 2,000 people. This march was not much smaller — several hundred protesters marched around City Park, the sidewalk bordering North 11th Street at one point completely packed with people north to south.
Organizer Emmiley Springfield said she did not realize how many people were in attendance until she, near the front of the march, returned to City Park’s basketball courts and saw the other people still marching in.
“I’m so happy that we had a magnificent turnout,” Springfield said. “I’m just very happy that it turned out good.”
Reposting images and links online isn’t enough, Springfield said.
“We need to do more, and this wasn’t much to do, so we can do things like this,” Springfield said. “We are capable of doing things like this, and we need to continue.”
Through the march, Ka’Neisha Collins used a megaphone to lead chants and songs. She said she came to protest for justice, not just for Floyd, but also other victims of racist violence like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
“George Floyd was the breaking point,” Collins said. “He was the tip of the iceberg. We’re not tolerating any more. We want justice … but we’re going to do it peacefully in Manhattan.”
Collins capped off the one-hour protest and march by leading a call-and-response song after the crowd gathered on City Park’s basketball courts. Some protesters left, some stayed to mingle and roughly 40 others began to silently lie prone on the concrete, evoking “die-in” demonstrations seen during other police brutality protests.
“I think Manhattan just needs to continue supporting the cause in any way, shape or form, if that’s voting, if that is coming out here and marching in the streets … making posters, sharing posts,” Springfield said. “Anything helps.”