ROCKFORD (WREX) — At least 1,000 people have gathered so far in Rockford on Saturday to hold a rally in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis.
13 WREX will update this article throughout the night with the latest from the scene and reaction from those participating.
9:10 p.m. Saturday:
Rockford Police is asking people to "head home peacefully."
The police department sent out the following tweet at 8:46 p.m.:
We respect everyone’s rights to peaceful protests and free speech. We also ask all that organizers and participants observe all laws and ordinances put in place for such protests. We'd ask now that everyone head home peacefully.
7:50 p.m. Saturday:
Organizers of the rally are asking the small, volatile group to calm down. They are asking them to not become violent as tempers flare and things become more tense.
7:42 p.m. Saturday:
SWAT officers gathered at the Rockford Police Headquarters District 1 after protesters began to throw rocks at the building's windows and breaking them.
No word if any arrest have been made at this time.
7:01 p.m. Saturday:
A select few from the rally have started to vandalize property at Rockford Police Headquarters District 1, including ripping the signs off the front of the property and stomping on them. Rocks and bottles are being thrown at the building as well.
According to WREX reporters at the scene, something that sounds like fireworks have been fired off. Police are now outside of the headquarters.
Unfortunately, a select few from the rally have started to vandalize property at @RockfordPD District 1, including ripping the signs off the front of the property and stomping on them. pic.twitter.com/0Krwr64ZLn— Josh Morgan (@JoshMorganWREX) May 31, 2020
6:00 p.m. Saturday:
Ralliers made their way to the Rockford Police Department headquarters on State Street, across the street from the Winnebago County Justice Center.
5:16 p.m. Saturday:
Protesters at Haskell Park hold signs for justice, they are chanting and singing songs or poetry.
"I think we are focusing on the wrong thing, instead of focusing on rioting and expression of the young people, we should be focusing on why we are having this rally. And I don't think any of these protests across the country are meant to be violent. I think it's people just like here expressing their pain, but what is happening is that pain is being oppressed more is causing the riots and that's what i think we need to keep in mind."
4:41 p.m. Saturday:
More than 1,000 people gathered in Haskell Park on Saturday to rally in response to the death of George Floyd. The crowds are peaceful, with many of them reciting poems, songs and stories together.
“Do you see violence? No! This is a protest to end violence!” one speaker said in a powerful message to the crowd.
They say they are gathered to speak out against violence against black communities. They say they are thrilled with the number of people who have showed up to peacefully share that message.
“I freaking love Rockford right now,” this speaker said. He said the country is starting to wake up and that has inspired him to be here. “Everything we’re doing is strength.”
4:00 p.m. Saturday
About 300 people were at Haskell Park on Saturday evening. Speakers are taking turn sharing the microphone and welcoming the large crowds. Emotional stories are being shared.