Following the example of cities across the nation, hundreds of people attended two days of peaceful protest in support of Black Lives Matter at the Collier County Courthouse in Naples, Florida.
The protests were sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. From Washington DC to Los Angeles, scores of protesters have been arrested in the last few days, stores have been looted and several people have been injured in the last few days.
In Naples, the first protest began around 5 p.m. on Monday, with protestors kneeling in front of Building L on the courthouse campus. They sat and stood around holding signs displaying the names of black people who have lost their lives to police brutality as well as advocacy organizations including Black Lives Matter and Justice for George Floyd.
About two hours into the demonstration, protestors began to march west on Tamiami Trail East towards downtown Naples, which is home to Naples’s most expensive and high-end restaurants and stores.
Day two of the protests followed a similar pattern, with marchers making their way toward downtown Naples again. This time, however, protestors were blocked off by a wall of police, many of whom were in riot gear. Protestors then made their way down Davis Boulevard before briefly stopping at the intersection of Davis Boulevard and Airport-Pulling Road. Cops directed them to walk further down Airport-Pulling Road back towards the courthouse.
Then some police officers arrived in military gear, barricaded themselves behind clear shields. A group of protestors stood in front of the officers, loudly describing their fears and concerns about black loved ones. Thre was no serious confrontation, though.
Four men have been arrested so far in relation to the protests. Video of one of those arrests shows a Naples police officer pushing a protestor out of the way, knocking her head onto the ground. Instagram user @danykyng, one of the men arrested, documented his experience with Naples police.
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On June 1st I felt it was my duty to support the peaceful protest against police brutality in Naples Florida. Little did I know I would later become a victim to the unfair treatment of young black people by white police officers. I spent the day both marching and documenting the unity and beauty of our community coming together for the purpose of change. As the police began to physically harass protestors, I knew I had to capture those images for the world to see the truth. I was told by an officer to get off the road and back onto the sidewalk, and so I obliged. As I made my way to the sidewalk I was approached by several officers, who then began to cuff me because to them, I was not walking fast enough and therefore to them (these aggressive angry white men) I was resisting their commands. I told them I was heading to the sidewalk but they no longer cared to listen and instead continued to cuff my hands behind my back. As we made our way to Collier County jail in the back of the van we were not aided with seatbelts. I knew I had to let my friends and family know through a live Instagram video that I was being detained without proper procedure and without consideration of my safety as a human being. When we arrived at the jail, we were given only one phone call and that was the last interaction with our families for the next 24 hours. We were given clothes to change into and kept in a small cell without masks to protect us from the impending covid 19 virus Having had knee problems, I was stripped of my knee guard and spent the night with a towel wrapped around my knee to ease the pain and discomfort. In those 24 hours none of the officers on duty cared to explain why we were being detained and also what the exact charges were. They didn’t even tell us whether or not we would be released or even when exactly we would see the light of day. It’s evident that we were being punished by a petty white supremacist system, without cause and definitely without reason. As a photographer I communicate through my photos and this is my opportunity to communicate the truth about our circumstances. As a photographer, taking pictures and being arrested for pursuing
Questioned about that arrest, Collier County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Karie Partington issued the following statement.
“Deputies were in the process of arresting two subjects for disorderly conduct during the protest. While they were making the arrests, there were other deputies who were providing coverage to ensure the protesters didn’t interfere.
One protester darted from the crowd and ran toward the deputies while they were making the arrests. A coverage deputy stepped forward and lowered his shoulder in an attempt to prevent the protester from running any further into an arrest situation. The protester ran into the coverage deputy’s shoulder, bounced back and went to the ground where she was quickly scooped up and ushered away by other protesters. At no time did the deputy put his hands on her.
At the same time this was happening there was another protester who was throwing water bottles at the deputies while they were trying to make the arrests. Deputies were also focused on trying to identify the bottle thrower while trying to make the arrests and provide coverage.”
Responded Instagram user @danykyng: “It’s evident that we were being punished by a petty white supremacist system, without cause and definitely without reason.”