2020 | News

Protesters in downtown Silver Spring demand end to police brutality, racism

About 75 people attend event at Civic Building

About 75 people gathered for a protest in downtown Silver Spring on Tuesday evening.

Photos by Caitlynn Peetz

Protesters took to downtown Silver Spring on Tuesday night to object to police brutality and racism. They also demanded that the local government defund the Montgomery County Police Department — shift money toward social services and other community resources — and called for the removal of officers from school buildings.

The demonstration was the latest in nearly daily protests in Montgomery County in response to the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, who was Black, died on May 25 in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest, while Floyd was pinned to the ground. His death has sparked weeks of protests across the country.

The protests have evolved over time to incorporate demands for police reform, removing resource officers from schools and tearing down Confederate statues.

In Silver Spring on Tuesday, approximately 75 protesters marched about a mile to the Civic Building, where they held a rally with several speakers.

An autistic woman, who is an alumni of MCPS, said she was once tackled by an officer while she was having a mental health crisis and is “traumatized.”

Another speaker said, “It doesn’t take a study to tell you that when there are police in schools, nobody feels safe.”

The Montgomery County Board of Education last week directed Superintendent Jack Smith to begin reviewing data about students who have been arrested on school property over the past three years to determine if the district should eliminate, modify or keep its resource officer program.

Protesters on Tuesday also criticized a bill introduced by the Montgomery County Council this week that, if passed, would prohibit police officers from using force unless there is an “imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.” Speakers said the language is too vague because there is no definition or examples of what situations might allow an officer to use force — like a chokehold — on a suspect.

Then, the determination of whether an officer acted out of line would be made by another police official, they said. Protesters urged county officials to include community members in the review of incidents.

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