Neighbors gather for silent vigil in Chevy Chase for George Floyd

Neighbors gather for silent vigil in Chevy Chase

It lasted nine minutes, symbolizing time officer pressed his knee onto Minneapolis man’s neck

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Residents in Chevy Chase kneel in Norwood Local Park Monday during a nine-minute vigil in memory of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis who died last month.

Photo by Dan Schere

Chevy Chase residents gathered in Norwood Local Park Monday evening for a silent vigil in memory of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis last month.

Floyd died on May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee onto the neck of Floyd, who was on the ground. A bystander’s video of that encounter showed that it lasted close to nine minutes.

Chauvin was responding to a call for someone using counterfeit money at a store. The officer has since been charged with murder and manslaughter.

Monday night’s peaceful vigil was one of several that have occurred throughout the country in the past several days.

Attendees were silent for nine minutes to symbolize the approximate amount of time Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck. Many knelt down on their knees to show solidarity with the African American community, in a gesture that has been used to protest police brutality.

The crowd, which organizers estimated in the hundreds, included people of different ages gathered in small groups. They maintained social distancing as a precaution to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many brought candles.

Jessica Nassau, who came with her husband and her daughter, said she found out about the event earlier that day on a neighborhood listserv.

“I know it’s not as big and vocal as some of the other protests. It just felt like something that was close to home and safe to bring kids to. Something to show a small sign of support,” she said.

Susan Baron, who helped organize the vigil earlier that day, said organizers put out a flyer at noon asking people to come to the park for a silent vigil. They asked attendees to wear masks and maintain proper physical distancing.

“A number of us in the last week have looked at each other and said, ‘What can we do, given COVID?’ You’re somewhat limited in what you can do to express your pain or sympathy,” she said.

“It’s so heartening and awesome, and it really is an expression where people want to find a place to let it be known to the families that have suffered. This isn’t just about George Floyd. … It’s that his death is on the shoulders  of so many others [whose deaths] before him were so senseless and tragic.”

Baron’s daughter, Zoe Ibson, who brought a Black Lives Matter sign, helped her mother distributes leaflets at houses on Monday. Ibson said it’s important for people in Chevy Chase, a predominantly white community, to show solidarity with the African American community.

“This specifically being a very affluent white community, it’s really important to come together and have a collective consciousness about the lives that are being lost,” she said.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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