By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Casper Police Department is encouraging downtown businesses to temporarily close on Wednesday as a precaution should rioting occur during a protest over the death of a Minnesota man at the hands of police.
“While we believe that the people of Casper will remain peaceful, we are also wanting to take precautions to ensure the safety and protection of our community’s members and property,” the department wrote in a Facebook post. “We know that the protest will be taking place in downtown Casper, therefore, we are encouraging that out of an abundance of caution, if they choose, downtown businesses consider taking precautions to secure their business whether that be by temporarily closing for a couple hours or otherwise.”
The protest of the death of George Floyd, hosted by Casper Youth for Change, will be held at noon Wednesday at David Street Station, with the marchers walking to city hall. Attendees are advised to wear a mask and bring water and a bag to pick up trash.
“Stay calm and peaceful,” a post on the CYC’s Facebook page read. “This is a demonstration of our First Amendment rights and to remember the life of George Floyd and other black Americans murdered by police brutality. We condemn and discourage any violence at our protest. We also encourage people to disperse if, for whatever reason, the police need us to do so.”
Floyd, an African-American man, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis over Memorial Day weekend. While Floyd was being detained, now-fired Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck neck for nearly nine minutes, causing the man to asphyxiate.
Chauvin has now been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
In response to Floyd’s murder and Chauvin’s eventual arrest, people across the country began protesting police brutality (and violence in general) against African-Americans, recalling such cases as Sandra Bland in Waller County, Texas and Eric Garner in New York City.
The latter died in a similar fashion, also telling police he couldn’t breathe after being detained.
On Monday, the Casper Police Department shared a statement about the Floyd protest planned for downtown Casper on Wednesday. The department updated the statement on Tuesday, letting people know they weren’t demanding anyone should close, merely suggesting it.
The department also encouraged people not involved with the Floyd protest to avoid the downtown Casper area on Wednesday afternoon.
“As a law enforcement community, we welcome the opportunity to support citizens’ rights to gather and peacefully protest,” a CPD Facebook post read. “However, we are also aware of the potential for these gatherings to turn violent. We believe in the people of Casper to peacefully and lawfully gather to express their opinions. We are proud to support those wishing to speak out against the heartbreaking death of George Floyd. We will not, however, tolerate violence and destruction to our community in any situation.”