Hundreds protest in Downtown Dayton today: What’s happening

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Combined ShapeCaption
George Floyd rally downtown Dayton

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Roughly 300 protesters marched peacefully through Downtown Dayton on Saturday afternoon.

The crowd began growing around noon with several people holding signs that said, “Black Lives Matter,” “Everyone vs. Racism,” and “Vote.” Before the group began marching a nine minute moment of silence was held to represent the length of time that a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on the neck of George Floyd before he died.

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Protesters left Courthouse Square around 1 p.m. to march. Frederick Cox III, one of the main speakers at the rally, challenged the protesters to do more than just show up, take photos or post on social media.

“We are out here in a peaceful way, demonstrating solidarity behind the idea that black lives matter,” he said.

Nicole Pentheny and Atalya Pentheny, both from Dayton, left a prayer meeting at St. Luke’s today and weren’t aware the protest was happening. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley stopped them and encouraged them to come rally.

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“We just came to stand to justice for all,” Nicole Pentheny said. “We did way back in the ’60s. We see this rising again. We want to make sure that this time and this season we’re able to stop it and make a change, in love, to a better way.”

Nicole Pentheny said she hopes everyone can listen to one another.

“I hope there are some people who don’t understand what we’re fighting for today will understand and show some empathy,” she said.

The crowd moved through downtown to the Oregon District. As they marched they shouted phrases like, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “Black lives matter,” and “No justice, no peace.”

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Near Third Street, some protesters handed water to police officers. Sara Stathes, one of the owners of the Barrel House, handed out bottles of water to protesters as they passed.

“It’s been really empowering to see our city come together,” Stathes said.

The rally concluded around 1:45 p.m. after protesters formed a circle and chanted, “I can’t breathe, get off my neck.”

Cox addressed the crowd again, asking them to think about why black lives matter to them and asking them to post on social media with their answers.

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He lead them in a round of cheers, saying, “Tell me what democracy looks like,” with the crowd responding, “This is what democracy looks like.”

“Go do the work and get home safely,” Cox said.

UPDATE @ 1:45 p.m.: The rally has ended and most protesters have started to leave Courthouse Square. No problems have been reported.

It appeared about 300 people attended.

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UPDATE @ 1:35 p.m.: Protesters have returned to Courthouse Square in Downtown Dayton.

They’ve formed a circle and are chanting, including saying, “I can’t breathe, get off my neck.”

Frederick Cox III is addressing the crowd again, asking them to think about why black lives matter to them and asking them to post on social media with their answers.

“Go do the work and get home safely,” Cox said.

He lead them in a round of cheers, saying, “Tell me what democracy looks like,” with the crowd responding, “This is what democracy looks like.”

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UPDATE @ 1:20 p.m.: Protesters continue to march through Dayton peacefully on Third Street now, including some protesters handing out water to police officers and some bystanders handing water to marchers.

Sara Stathes, one of the owners of the Barrel House, handed out bottles of water to protesters as they walked by on Third Street.

“It’s been really empowering to see our city come together,” Stathes said.

UPDATE @ 1:06 p.m.: Protesters are marching through downtown generally toward the Oregon District. They are chanting phrases like "Hands up, don't shoot," "Black lives matter," and "No justice, no peace."

Some police officers, including on bicycles, can be seen along the path. Everything has remained peaceful.

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UPDATE @12:55 p.m.: The protesters are leaving Courthouse Square to march.

Frederick Cox III, one of the main speakers, challenged the protesters to do more than just show up today, take photos or post on social media about the rally. He encouraged them to think about their actions, about what are they willing to give up so others can gain.

Cox also called for accountability for the current city of Dayton leadership and police department.

“We are out here in a peaceful way, demonstrating solidarity behind the idea that black lives matter,” he said.

UPDATE @12:50 p.m.: People from the crowd are taking turns talking, many sharing short personal stories or explanations of why they came to the protest.

“I don’t want that to be life my kids grow up in … Everyone has friends and just imagine if that was one of your friends,” one protester said.

UPDATE @12:30 p.m.: Frederick Cox III addressed the crowd and called for nine minutes of silence and for nonviolent demonstrations only today. The nine minutes represents the length of time that a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on the neck of George Floyd before he died.

Speakers are addressing the crowd and then they will begin to march soon.

Several people are holding signs that say “Black Lives Matter,” “Everyone vs. Racism,” and “Vote.”

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UPDATE @ 12:16 p.m.: The rally in downtown Dayton on Courthouse Square hasn't started yet but about 120-150 people have gathered.

Dawn Profitt, of Dayton, came to the square Saturday because she said it’s important that she use her privilege to help those who aren’t as privileged.

“I’m hoping that people will see that if we all come together, there will be more justice in the world and more equality,” Profitt said. “I realized that a lot of people around me are racists and my silence equals oppression, so I will no longer be silent.”

Nicole Pentheny and Atalya Pentheny, both from Dayton, left a prayer meeting at St. Luke’s today and weren’t aware the protest was happening. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley stopped them and encouraged them to come rally.

DETAILS: In their words: Why locals protest and what change they want to see

“We just came to stand to justice for all,” Nicole Pentheny said. “We did way back in the ’60s. We see this rising again. We want to make sure that this time and this season we’re able to stop it and make a change, in love, to a better way.”

Nicole Pentheny said she hopes everyone can listen to one another.

“I hope there are some people who don’t understand what we’re fighting for today will understand and show some empathy,” she said.

FIRST POST: A protest is planned for noon today at Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton following the police killing of George Floyd.

About 30 people are at the square as of 11:45 a.m., most of them trying to keep cool in the shade right now. Police officers were checking trash cans and other places this morning ahead of the planned protest. About 25 police officers on bicycles are riding around the square.

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This story will be updated throughout the day as news develops. Check back for updates.

Demonstrations also are planned for Trotwood, Miami Twp. and Huber Heights in Montgomery County, plus Xenia and Yellow Springs in Greene County.

An armed demonstration that had been planned for downtown Dayton today has been canceled. Organizer Alec Livida said he decided Dayton wasn't ready for an open-carry event less than a year after the Oregon District shootings, and he added he didn't want to distract from proposals on police policy changes.

Nationwide protests — some peaceful, some violent — have been ignited after police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, faces second-degree murder and other charges, while the other three officers present face charges of aiding and abetting murder.

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