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Protesters march in downtown Rochester

protesters blocking downtown Rochester street

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- Protesters blocked streets in downtown Rochester late Friday night.

Following a march from Soldiers Field Park to Government Center in the afternoon, marchers blocked the street near South Broadway Avenue and 4th Street a little after 9:20 p.m.

Anger over the death of George Floyd is being felt here in Rochester.

"An eye for an eye is what I believe. I think it's continued nonsense that all of these cops continue to kill black folks without getting prosecuted. This is a huge issue for me," said Mohammed Gaafar El Khalifa.

Most people at Friday's protest shared this feeling.

"Everyone has these stereotypes in their heads and that needs to be eliminated when it comes to the justice system," said protest organizer Ashley Olson.

They began marching from Soliders Field Park and ended up at the government center.

"This is something that could happen in Rochester," said protester Jahnai Jackson. "You can't say it's something that wouldn't happen here because I didn't think it would happen in the cities."

Led by a police escort, the crowd chanted for social change but in a peaceful manner.

"No violence involved. We don't want nobody else dying," said Jayden Williams, a Rochester resident who spoke at the protest. "Nobody fighting. Nobody throwing stuff, fighting or nothing. Making a change for words."

However, Rochester is home to a lot of diversity. One protester enjoys life in the Med City but says he remembers discrimination when he arrived in the United States.

"Nevertheless it's very hard," said Khalifa, originally from Sudan. "When you look at how newcomers are treated, immigrants, those who are considered illegal aliens and all the folks that have it way more difficult, there is not much support for them."

African-Americans in Rochester also feel that discrimination, including from police officers.

"Most of us didn't know George Floyd," said Williams. "Most of us feel sick to our stomach and cried for him because we know what it's like."

They just want change.

"Everyone to be seen as equal," Williams said. "That's literally it."

"Everything need to change. Life period needs to change. They need prayer," said protester Eugene Washington. "Please change Minnesota. Is it because of my skin? Why? We all bleed the same."

Williams told us that their peaceful mission will continue every day until their voices are heard. Another demonstration is planned in Rochester on Saturday.

Alex Tejada

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