ROCKLAND — Approximately 250-300 people gathered peacefully in Chapman Park, June 1, carrying homemade signs, wearing masks against COVID-19, and shouting the name “George Floyd,” loudly, as cars passed by, honking in solidarity.
They repeated George Floyd’s name again and again, adding “no justice, no peace, no racist police” and “Black Lives Matter.”
“Say his name,” a voice would shout through a bullhorn. “George Floyd,” the crowd would respond. The elderly, middle-aged, all the way down to teens and babies, were there to demonstrate for George Floyd and Black Lives Matter.
They filled the park, and after chanting, everyone took a knee for nine minutes, including Rockland police and Knox County Sheriff Tim Carroll.
Then, the police closed off Main Street (Route 1) and the protesters marched down the road, and eventually toward the Knox County Courthouse.
“We are about to get ready to march down Main Street,” shouted one of the organizers. “The police are going to block the road for us. Rockland PD and the Knox County Sheriff’s Department. So we are about to see some police cars driving by with lights. Don’t be alarmed. They are on our side and they are here to support us.”
Those last words drew shouts of appreciation and applause from the crowd, before they set into motion down the road. Their placards were as personal as their personal and political reactions to the brutal death of George Floyd — “Nurses against white supremacy,” “White Silence, White Shame,” “I Can’t Breathe,” “Black Lives Matter,” “No Fascist USA,” and many more.
“Everything went well here,” said Sheriff Carroll. “We support the message, as well. It’s inappropriate what happened and makes us all look bad.”
There were no negative incidents at the demonstration, he said, and no threats had been received. He said the organizers may have received a few harassments.
Rockland Police Chief Chris Young informed the community on the Rockland Police Department Facebook page about the rally. He wrote:
We watched the coverage of George Floyd’s murder. And, like everyone else, we were disgusted and angry.
We’re still angry about it.
I can’t speak to what other states do in their police hiring practices and internal policies. Clearly, there are some that need dramatic reform.
I can speak to how we hire officers - every full time police officer in Maine must successfully pass polygraph testing, psychological testing and cultural diversity training. Without those, they don’t become police officers.
I can speak to how we train our officers, with ongoing regular training in appropriate and inappropriate uses of force.
I can speak to what we believe and stand for – we believe Rockland is an open, beautiful and inclusive community; a community that we’re proud to be a part of. We stand for protecting all citizens’ rights. We stand against racism in any form.
There’s an old saying, that I’d likely get wrong if I tried to directly quote it. But, essentially, it says, “The only thing needed for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.”
There will be a rally today, for people to speak out against unjust police violence and especially George Floyd’s murder. We support any peaceful assembly, as it’s a protected citizens’ right. We enthusiastically support speaking out against racism and unjust police violence.
As law enforcement, we strive to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We must begin by coming forward and condemning unjust police violence. If we remain silent in the face of injustice, we fail to protect and serve. What happened to George Floyd is despicable - it should have never happened, and should never happen again.
We don’t believe in letting evil flourish.
We stand with you.
Chris Young, Chief of Police
Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at firstname.lastname@example.org; 207-706-6657