By David Stenklyft and Shereen Siewert
Streets in downtown Wausau were filled with marchers condemning racial injustice and police brutality, one of many protests sweeping the country following the death of George Floyd, who died last month wile in police custody.
Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven and Mayor Katie Rosenberg, who attended the march, estimated the crowd at about 1,500.
All photos by David Stenklyft for Wausau Pilot & Review
People for the Power of Love (PFPL), in association with Wausau Transfam Alliance and Wisconsin Forward Action Wisconsin Network – CW (FAWN), hosted the march, held to honor the life of George Floyd and call attention to the continued injustices against the black community in Minneapolis and beyond.
Event organizer Kaylee McColley said the rally aimed to bring attention to the deaths of young black men while in police custody with a message of peace and solidarity.
“This is a profound time of grief and I think we are all comforted by each other’s presence at the rally,” she said.
The rally began at The 400 Block, with a march over the river and back to City Hall, where speakers talked about the urgent need for change. The crowd held a silent vigil for eight minutes, kneeling with fists in the air, reflecting the amount of time Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin held Floyd down, which prosecutors now say caused Floyd’s death.
Following the assembly at City Hall, marchers returned to The 40 Block for music, more speakers and pizza from Red Eye Brewery.
McCaulley said her pre-rally communication with Mayor Rosenberg and the Wausau Police Department was very cordial, and there was a concerted and coordinated effort to ensure the rally was peaceful.
Officers were visible during the entire event, spearheading traffic control and handing out water bottles to marchers.
Though some protests in communities around the country have turned violent, no such disruption happened at the Wausau march, which unfolded without incident.
Afterward, the Wausau Police Department posted a message on Facebook thanking the organizers for the event.