Peaceful protest in Auburndale ends with police chaplain embracing demonstrator

Polk County

AUBURNDALE, Fla. (WFLA) – Marking one week since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody, a group of diverse demonstrators gathered for a peaceful protest at the City Park.

“We need the people who aren’t African American to step up,” one speaker told the crowd.

Many of the speakers were young people. They took turns addressing racism and police brutality.

“Their struggles need recognition and we need to do something about that for our community,” Heaven Heflin told 8 On Your Side.

Aaron Thomas from Bartow shared a message of unity over the megaphone.

“Just be good to one another, that’s all its about,” he said, “whatever your religion is, whatever your gender is, whatever your ethnicity.”

Auburndale Police Chief Andy Ray called this type of protest the “American way.”

“We’re here because we took an oath to uphold the constitution and part of that is the right for people to peacefully assemble and air their grievances,” Chief Ray said.

For ten silent minutes, the protestors took a knee in honor of George Floyd.

“Lord we lament the loss of his life, we believe it to be wrong,” Auburndale Police Chaplain Michael Spivey said while leading a prayer circle. “So today, oh God we pray for your great mercy over our nation. We repent for things that should not have been that continue to be.”

When it was time for everyone to go home, 8 On Your Side watched a moment of hope and healing. The chaplain stopped to embrace one of the demonstrators.

When the Polk County curfew kicked in at 8 p.m., the crowd at the park dispersed peacefully.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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