A New Jersey police chief and several officers marched in solidarity with protesters in one of the state’s most violent cities on Saturday as part of a peaceful protest in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
The act was one of the latest shows of solidarity between law enforcement and those protesting in their communities nationwide.
Camden County Police Chief Joe Wysocki, donning his uniform and a face mask, helped hold the banner at the head of the march in Camden alongside the march’s organizer, Yolanda Deaver.
“It just turned into something bigger than what I expected,” Deaver told NJ.com. “I couldn’t believe it. We walked in peace. I was so moved.”
Wysocki, center, raises a fist while marching with Camden residents and activists in Camden, N.J., to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (April Saul via AP)
A photo the department shared online shows Wysocki carrying the banner while throwing up a peace sign. He raises a fist in another photo, while Lt. Zack James is seen marching in uniform with other protesters.
”Yesterday was another example of our ongoing engagement, and a very real dialogue, that we are having with residents throughout Camden that has made our agency part of the fabric of this city,” Wysocki said Sunday in an emailed statement to The Associated Press.
Police officers there have become hyper-focused on community policing since the city’s police force disbanded in 2013 and reformed as a county agency. Some uniformed officers attended a neighborhood block party Saturday night and were pictured grilling hamburgers and hot dogs.
“We know that together we are stronger, we know that together, in the city of Camden, we can create a space where policing is focused on deescalation and dialogue,” Wysocki said.
Lt. Zack James of the Camden County Metro Police Department marches along with demonstrators in Camden on Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd. (April Saul via AP)
Demonstrations have popped up in cities all over the country, sparked by anger over Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25, which was captured on cellphone video. Many have turned violent, leading to riots and looting at night.
The four police officers who were arresting Floyd for suspicion of passing a counterfeit bill were fired a day later. Third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges were filed Friday against the officer who used his knee to pin Floyd down as Floyd pleaded for air.
While violence has overshadowed many of the peaceful protests, images from across the country have captured police officers, demonstrators, and communities coming together in solidarity.
Marchers in Flint Township, Mich., urged Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson to join their march with chants of “Walk with us! Walk with us!” Swanson obliged, replying, “I want to make this a parade, not a protest.”
Police in Fargo, N.D., held hands with protesters while officers took a knee in Santa Cruz, Calif.
On Sunday afternoon in New York, officers clapped on protesters, hundreds of whom stopped and took a knee with fists raised just north of the Empire State Building.
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and The Associated Press contributed to this report.