Around 200 students marched around Rio in Gaithersburg for a peaceful protest on Monday, stopping sometimes to chant “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice, no peace.” Credit: Photos by Caitlynn Peetz

A large crowd of students rallied in Rio in Gaithersburg on Monday to express their outrage over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Floyd, who was black, died on May 25 after a white police officer investigating a call about someone using a fake $20 bill at a store pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes, as shown in a video shot by a bystander. The officer has been charged with murder and manslaughter.

Floyd’s death has sparked protests and violent confrontations in many cities.

Col. Zadok A. Magruder High School student Nicole Badobre said she helped organize a peaceful protest in Gaithersburg on Monday as a way for students to have a platform.

“I wanted to do this because I felt like none of our voices were being heard,” Badobre said.

Around 200 students were there for a march that started at Rio and moved through Gaithersburg. They stopped in major intersections to chant “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice, no peace.” They also chanted “Say their names,” then would list the names of black people killed by police.

The Target department store was closed in anticipation of the demonstration, police said.

During their march, as the group chanted “Black Lives Matter,” a white man called out to the group, “All lives matter.”

This turned into a confrontation between the man and the students. Police who were on hand got involved and got between the man and the students.

As the group chanted “black lives matter” behind her, Badobre spoke to the man: “When we say black lives matter, all lives matter is a way to discredit everything that we’ve been through in this country.”

The incident was brief and was resolved without incident.

In contrast, nearby residents clapped for the protesters from their balconies and porches. Some raised their fists in support.

Several times, the crowd walked through stopped traffic and were greeted with honks of support. One car turned up its music and the crowd gathered around and cheered.

The protest followed a peaceful demonstration in Germantown on Sunday afternoon. Other protests are planned in Bethesda on Tuesday and Rockville on Friday.

The Gaithersburg event was still underway three hours after it started.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com