Thousands Memorialize George Floyd in Weekend Las Vegas Protests, Others Support Wounded Police Officer
Posted on: June 8, 2020, 10:00h.
Last updated on: June 8, 2020, 01:50h.
Demonstrations continued this weekend in Las Vegas, with several thousand protesters demanding justice and police reform after the death of George Floyd.
In a separate event, dozens of people took part in a drive of support to University Medical Center (UMC), where critically wounded Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Shay Mikalonis remains hospitalized after getting shot last week at a protest outside of Circus Circus Hotel & Casino.
The weekend started with a Black Lives Matter-organized demonstration on Friday evening, which attracted several thousand peaceful protesters to the Westside neighborhood in Las Vegas. Later, a smaller peaceful protest took place Saturday night, followed by two more smaller peaceful protests Sunday evening, one on the Strip outside The Venetian and another at the Martin Luther King Jr. statue in North Las Vegas. Many on Sunday night marched to the outside of the Bellagio.
The protesters recalled how Floyd died last month while a Minneapolis police officer placed his knee on the unarmed, handcuffed black man’s neck for over eight minutes, despite pleas he could not breathe. Floyd’s death and related issues have led to protests globally.
Supporters Say ‘Pray for Shay’
Separately, on Sunday, a “Pray for Shay” parade of vehicles went from the Strip to UMC, where Mikalonis was recovering after having surgery to remove a bullet. Approximately 50 cars and two motorcycles took part in the Pray for Shay event, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Shortly after the shooting, police arrested Edgar Samaniego, 20, who was charged with attempted murder and other counts. He was held in the Clark County Detention Center this weekend, unable to post $1 million bond.
Participants in Sunday’s parade of vehicles recognized the challenges now faced by Mikalonis, age 29, and his family. “I don’t think anything will take that pain away. But I just hope that they heard us, and they could see us, and it gives them a lot of comfort, that they’re not alone,” Alysha Pate, a friend of Mikalonis, told KLAS, a local TV station, about the officer’s family and his path to healing.
We’re all here for you and we’re all rooting for you and we all just love and support [you] 100 percent, and we’re just hoping for a speedy recovery,” Pate added.
Lisa Hitchcock, whose daughter-in-law is a police officer, also went to the Pray for Shay event, along with several relatives.
“We’re all praying for him and we stand beside him,” Hitchcock told the Review-Journal about Mikalonis. “We support the decision that he made to be a police officer…. He was out here doing this job and that’s the bottom line.” He remains in critical condition at UMC, local news reports said.
Also, news broke this weekend that several Las Vegas and Clark County Republicans are among the organizers of an upcoming Blue Lives Matter March in Las Vegas planned for Saturday.
The march will begin at the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, and continues to Caesars Palace, according to KTNV, another Las Vegas TV station. The group says it has “love and support” for police officers, especially Mikalonis.
Also, a fund for Mikalonis and his family was set up by the Injured Police Officers Fund.
‘Stop Killing Us’ Demands Local Minister
On Friday at the Westside rally, the Rev. Vance “Stretch” Sanders told those assembled for George Floyd’s memory, “If you believe that Black Lives Matter, like you say they do, then we’re going to need you to act like it.
“Our demand is simple,” Sanders added. “Stop killing us.”
It’s 2020 and [we] still have to say black lives matter?” Sanders asked. “We’re tired, and sick and tired of what is going on.”
Las Vegas City Councilman Cedric Crear, who represents the Westside, also took part, and said to protesters, “It’s long, it’s hard, we’re tired, we’re beaten, but we are not gonna give up.”
Protesters also mentioned the name of Jorge Gomez, a protester who was fatally shot by Las Vegas police last week outside of the Las Vegas federal courthouse during a confrontation.
He was later found to have been heavily armed. First, police warned him to leave, then police fired non-lethal shots after having a weapon pointed at them, with officers eventually firing shots which killed him, according to police accounts published in local media.