Protests against racial injustice and police brutality, spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25, aren’t just happening in major U.S. cities, but in smaller cities as well as small towns. The video of former police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes has caused widespread outrage and a reckoning about systemic racism.
The number and scale of the protests show the Black Lives Matter movement has gained significant mainstream support. One contributing factor is that younger Americans, who have turned out in force, are more racially diverse. The Brookings Institution indicates it expects the 2020 census to show "that more than half of Americans under age 18 identify as a nonwhite racial or ethnic minority." A noticeable difference to past Black Lives Matter demonstrations has also been the large number of white Americans participating. According to the New York Times, a team of researchers who gathered data from the protest crowds in New York, Washington and Los Angeles found that more than 53% of those surveyed were white Americans. In Washington, 65% of those surveyed were white.
"It's important to say that this is not just an issue in big cities just because there's more people," said Joanne Gibson, who led a demonstration of 20 people, mostly, if not all white, in Parachute, Colorado. "It's an issue here. There's systemic racism in all parts of our country. You can't find a place in America that isn't built on a foundation of racism."
Demonstrations have occurred in at least 1,600 places to date, according to tracking by USA Today. In a number of locations, the protests are connected to local cases such as the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, and Ahmaud Arbery in Atlanta that have fueled the outrage.
"I feel like a lot of people want to pretend that small-town America doesn't have these racial issues, but they are incredibly widespread and incredibly pertinent," Teddy Jumpp, the organizer of one protest in Helena, Montana, told KTVH.
Protesters and police officers took part in a 9-minute moment of silence in honor of George Floyd during a "Sit in Protest" in Pasadena, Texas.
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
In Louisville, Kentucky people have protested George Floyd's death as well as the death of Breonna Taylor. Taylor was killed by local police during a no-knock warrant at her home.
Nearly a century ago this southern Illinois town of 4,200 residents expelled most of its African American residents, according to historians. Some residents said they were marching as a way to try to move beyond their own community's past.
Demonstrations have sometimes faced counter-protesters.