ASHTABULA — Police and organizers of a rally to remember George Floyd expect a peaceful event on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Lance Cpl. Kevin Cornelius Memorial Park.
Floyd was killed during an arrest on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. His death has sparked protests nationwide over the last week.
Ashtabula City Manager James Timonere said the city is aware of the event and plans to be there to support the peaceful demonstration, but also have contingency plans in case any violence or property damage were to occur.
“What happened in Minnesota was a heinous crime,” Timonere said.
He said staff members are planning to participate in the event, but the city will be prepared.
Timonere said he has been in touch with the organizers of the event.
“We are expecting a peaceful event,” he said.
Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said officers will be participating in the event and others will be available if the need arises. He said a similar demonstration in Painesville earlier in the week went off well but there were a few Antifa members at the event.
“There is a likelihood there will be some Antifa people here,” Stell said.
He said police plan to support the event with the community and attempt to ignore any provocations.
Wisdom Davis filed the permit to organize the event. She said she has experienced police brutality first hand and wanted to do something to raise awareness.
“We [society] know about it, but we aren’t finding a solution,” Davis said.
She said the event is to be educational and as peaceful as possible.
Davis said there will be a guest book to sign to send to the family of George Floyd, food will be provided and there will be several speakers during the event, which is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. It will conclude with a candlelight vigil in Floyd’s honor around 7 p.m.
Davis said masks and social distancing are being promoted and hand sanitizer will be available.
Liz Penna, president of the Ashtabula NAACP said her organization was not asked to be a part of the event and does not plan to attend. She said the organization’s national office urges local chapters to work with legislators as their focus of activity to institute societal change.
Two other demonstrations are scheduled in the area this weekend.
An event to remember those “lost to racism” is scheduled to be held tonight at the Geneva Gazebo in downtown Geneva, said Marsha Lamb, who is organizing the event.
Lamb said she decided to sponsor the event to start healing so in 10 years we are not fighting over the same things. She said Kent State University student Sonya Lenior will be speaking on behalf of the African-American community and Lamb will speak on behalf of the Puerto Rican community.
She said Rev. Michael Greenlief of Edgewood Alliance Church would speak on behalf of the church community. She said several Geneva council members are planning to attend and may speak.
On Thursday afternoon the village of Jefferson clarified Facebook posts relating to a possible Second Amendment rally at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“We [the village] are not in any way funding, hosting, backing or otherwise organizing this Second Amendment rally or any other demonstration of any kind,” Jefferson Mayor Judy Maloney said in a news release.
“We strongly support anyone who wishes to exercise their constitutional rights peacefully. We condemn all acts of violence and we are taking steps to ensure that our community is protected to the best of our abilities,” Maloney said.