PORTLAND, Maine — It’s been over a week since George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis, sparking protests against police brutality and racism in America across the country and around the world.
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death last week. On Wednesday, charges were elevated to second-degree murder, and the other three officers involved were charged as well.
On Wednesday, a protest organized by Hamdia Ahmed began at 4 p.m. at City Hall in Portland.
"We are asking everyone in the community come together to address institutional and systemic racism," the event listing on Facebook says.
"We need everyone to join us and listen to the black community in Maine. We are sick and tired of waking up to videos of black people being murdered. We deserve to be treated like human being [sic]. What happened to George Floyd was so horrific to watch. We must demand justice for black people."
The main protest and rally ended around 6 p.m. and remained peaceful. Similar to previous night's protests, a smaller group didn't leave and instead headed to the Portland Police station.
The group seemed to peacefully disperse around 8 p.m., but regrouped later at Monument Square, and then went back to the police station.
As of about 11 p.m., the group had dwindled down to about 30 people.
NEWS CENTER Maine will continue to monitor the gathering and will keep this story updated.
The rally at City Hall featured speeches from organizers, protestors, Portland City Councillors, and Westbrook Police Chief Janine Roberts.
Peaceful rally and protest at Portland City Hall
Portland Mayor Kate Snyder said she would be attending the peaceful protest on Wednesday. The Mayor has posted she is "outraged" and "stunned" by George Floyd's murder.
Organizers are calling on Portland Police Chief Frank Clark to "listen to the voices of black people."
Portland Police Chief Frank Clark, as well as other police departments in Maine, have shared messages of support with protestors and condemned the Minneapolis Police Department for Floyd's killing.
Clark said, "We understand why you're here. We saw the video, we have the same concerns."
Earlier on Wednesday, police chiefs from the greater Portland area held a press conference addressing the protests.
Watch the complete press conference here:
So far there have been 33 arrests made in connection with protests in Portland. Though most have remained peaceful, as organizers are urging, tensions with police in riot gear seem to heighten after dark.
During Monday and Tuesday nights' protests, following completely peaceful demonstrations, police and organizers urged people to go home peacefully. On Tuesday, a small group of around 100-200 people remained and went to the Portland police station.
Officers announced a disperse order and said those who did not leave would be subject to arrest. A small group of protestors set off firecrackers and instigated as officers deployed disperse tactics, such as closing in on protestors to close streets and firing pepper ballers, which are like paintball guns but shoot out balls of pepper gas.
Earlier in the evening, an organizer, Devin Moore, shared a message of peace with NEWS CENTER Maine's Hannah Dineen.
"I see a lot of things online about people talking about like the looting and the rioting and it just, like, kills me when the violence drowns out the message of why we’re all out here in the first place," Moore said.
"We’re all out here for love. Whether Black Lives Matter is the chant, it’s bigger than the black lives. We’re asking for our lives to be valued, yes, but we just want to be treated the same so that we can all get along here in this country."
Watch Moore's full interview here:
NEWS CENTER Maine is continuing its live coverage of the protests.
Watch Wednesday's live coverage here:
This story will be updated.
NEWS CENTER Maine's live coverage from Tuesday night's protest:
Photos from the Portland protest Monday night:
Black Lives Matter protests in Portland continue on Monday
Photos from the Portland protest on Sunday:
Black Lives Matter protests continue on Sunday in downtown Portland