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Protest winds down after hundreds march through downtown Grand Forks

Peaceful demonstration lasted about two hours and drew as many as 500 people.

Grand Forks mayor Michael Brown speaks to protestors gathered at the obelisk near the Sorlie Bridge Thursday. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Hundreds marched peacefully through downtown Grand Forks Thursday, June 4, in remembrance of two people who died in the past week due to violence.


The event was planned to last about three hours, from noon to 3 p.m., and was held to remember George Floyd, who died last week in Minneapolis after he was pinned down by a police officer, and Grand Forks Police Officer Cody Holte, who died last week responding to a call for aid by other law-enforcement officers.

The event ended up lasting about two and a half hours, wrapping up slightly earlier than planned.

Before the protest dispersed Grand Forks Police Lt. Derik Zimmel said the department did not specifically ask that protesters leave, adding that the original plan for the event was not being followed but was still peaceful, which created uncertainty. In the interest of public safety, he said the department encouraged people to remain clear of the area to be on the safe side.

It started right at noon and saw attendees march from the Grand Forks Central parking ramp, north past City Hall and then back down Third Street on their way to the flood obelisk on the Greenway. They doubled back over the route at least once. Cars honked as they drove nearby.

There was no sign whatsoever of the violence or mayhem that has plagued other communities in the wake of the Floyd death. Signs held by marchers generally honored Floyd and urged better understanding.

"Say his name," began one chant.

"George Floyd" was the universal response.


They also chanted "Black lives matter" and "no justice, no peace."

Temperatures at the start of the march were just above 80 degrees, but it seemed hotter along the streets. Numerous Grand Forks police officers marched with the group -- not in any form of law-enforcement oversight, but simply alongside the demonstrators. They were wearing regular, everyday uniforms.

The federal courthouse in downtown Grand Forks closed early as protesters congregated nearby.

In advance of the event, at least 260 indicated they would attend, but by early appearances, the crowd seemed to swell past that initial number. Early indications are that it surpassed 500.

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