PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Police officers across the country are now joining in on the George Floyd protests. In one small town, it's already making a difference.
What You Need To Know
- Protesters hit the streets in Portsmouth over the weekend
- When they got to the police department and took and knee in front of police, officers kneeled with them
- The next day, police and city leaders talked about ways to prevent cop killings and get officers more involved
- The group behind the protest is planning more community events with police to help build a better relationship with people in their area
It didn't start off the way the way it ended. Protestors say before they ever hit the streets, they were already getting threats.
“Nobody wanted us to do it, a lot of people said if we come through the police were gonna shoot us down," said Protest Organizer Datoine Robinson.
But when Datoine Robinson started his group “We United,” he says it wasn’t what they thought.
“Everybody assumed we were coming out to loot and to riot, and that’s not what we were doing,” said Robinson.
He says he and more than 100 people joined in and marched through the small town of Portsmouth straight to the police department.
Anthony Mount was one of the protesters who took a knee to send a message.
“We want you guys to know that we’re not all bad either, just like we figured you guys were not all bad either,” said Mount.
And what happened next would change everything.
Officers kneeled down with protesters in solidarity, for unity against racism and police brutality.
“I was almost in tears surprised when they kneeled because I didn’t think they would actually do that,” said Mount.
And that simple stance turned into change.
“We kinda discussed working in the future and maybe helping to improve relationships between our police force and all the citizens in Portsmouth,” said Portsmouth City Manager Sam Sutherland.
City leaders, along with police, took action, meeting about what can be done to prevent police killings.
“Some of the thing we threw out were some more training for our officers of course, there’s some programs we may be interested in having our officers get involved in some extra training,” said Sutherland.
The city manager says they also talked about officers being more active and participating in community events.
Datoine and his newly-formed group say they’re planning that part with police.
“We’re gonna clean up the park, have a cookout for the kids,” said Robinson.
All an effort to bridge the gap— an effort sparked by one simple move.
“We’re trying to say we’re all in this together,” said Mount.