Five police officers took a knee to show solidarity with the hundreds of protesters gathered near the Mall at Fairfield Commons late Monday afternoon in Beavercreek.
The kneeling brought cheers, high-fives and celebrations from the protesters to the officers who showed the support.
Earlier, officers lobbed tear gas canisters to get protesters out of the busy Beavercreek intersection at North Fairfield Road and Pentagon Boulevard. The second round of tear gas was directed at protesters kneeling in the intersection after police had already blocked it to traffic.
Hundreds of protesters gathered starting around 3:30 p.m. Monday afternoon for what a poster called a sit-in protest for George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Around 4:40 p.m., many protesters got down on one knee, chanting “take a knee” and asking police and Greene County Sheriff’s deputies to “take a knee with us.”
Many protesters were holding signs as they also chanted “black lives matter,” and “no justice, no peace,” “hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe.”
Around 5:10 p.m., the protesters moved to the corner closer to the Mall at Fairfield Commons.
Cheers erupted around 5:12 p.m. after one officer took a knee to show solidarity with the protesters, who went to high-five or hug him. Two minutes later, a second officer took a knee, and at 5:18 p.m., three more Beavercreek and Fairborn officers took a knee and other officers dropped their shields on the pavement.
Crowd was beginning to disperse as of 5:24 p.m., and police announced over a loudspeaker that those who do not get out of the street could be arrested. Large crowds remained in the grass holding signs as police opened lanes of traffic.
Protesters cheered as motorists sounded car horns in support as they drove by.
One protester around 5:40 p.m. went back out into the middle of the road, but another protester pulled him back as others yelled to get out of the street.
A girl holding a sign reading “No justice, no peace” snapped a picture with a Fairborn police officer on her cellphone. The officer said he lives in the area, and supports the sentiments of the protesters.
Walmart, Sam’s Club and other businesses closed ahead of the demonstration, and an entrance off Pentagon Boulevard to the Mall at Fairfield Commons was blocked.
Sidney Creager and Hannah Taylor of Kettering were among those in front of Walmart.
“I feel like there’s nothing to do but this,” Creager said.
Taylor said that as a white woman she can’t understand what it’s like to fear for her life because of the color of her skin.
In August 2014, shopper John Crawford III was shot and killed inside the store.
The 22-year-old Crawford, a Fairfield resident, was shot to death by Beavercreek police Officer Sean Williams after a 911 caller told dispatchers a black man was holding a rifle, appeared to be loading it and waving it near people. Crawford was holding a Crosman MK-177 BB/pellet rifle that he found unboxed on a store shelf.
The city and Crawford family reached a $1.7 million settlement agreement, which was announced May 13.
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