Multiple rallies across Connecticut are pushing for change and are calling for justice following the death of George Floyd and protesters have closed down several highways throughout the state on Sunday.
The rallies and protests come less than a week after the death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white officer knelt on his neck in Minnesota.
A video that showed Floyd, 46, begging for air as a police officer was seen kneeling on his neck has sparked outrage and protests across the country.
Some have turned violent, leading to looting and fires in Minnesota's Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
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That officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
In New Haven, there was a peaceful demonstration entitled #WeCantBreathe. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of City Hall.
Police said that as of 6 p.m. on Sunday, protesters had returned to Route 34 and were blocking traffic.
About 300 protesters were also at the New Haven Police Headquarters, where police were positioned in front of the main entrance.
Officers formed a crowd control line after several protesters tried to forcibly enter the building, according to police.
Sunday afternoon around 1:15 p.m., New Haven Police responded to protesters blocking motor vehicle traffic at the merge of I-95, I-91 and the Oak Street Connector.
Police said highway traffic was blocked until about 2:45 p.m.
Several hundred protesters then gathered and were in the street and on the steps of New Haven Police Headquarters at 1 Union Avenue.
Officers were on scene and were detouring all car traffic in the area of the police station.
Police said the event is a peaceful gathering and officers were standing by and monitoring it.
The protesters were chanting things including "I can't breathe," and "hands up, don't shoot."
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker issued a statement in response to protests happening in the city. The statement reads:
Today New Haven has experienced more than a thousand protesters deeply frustrated by the killing of George Floyd and police brutality. People are understandably angry and want action. I do, too. Currently, protesters are outside of the Police Department and on Route 34. I’m glad to share that so far, the protest has been mostly peaceful, and the New Haven Police Department has shown great restraint. I stand with the residents of New Haven and the New Haven Police to speak out against police brutality. What happened to George Floyd and what has happened to many others must stop. Chief Reyes and I have been abundantly clear about our expectations, that our officers work with compassion, that our officers don’t over-police our neighborhoods, that our officers embody the spirit of real community policing. We’ve also been clear that if there is any complaint of misconduct, we will investigate and hold any officers accountable. I also stand ready to talk collaboratively with the protesters and the community at large to better understand, to listen and to begin to address racism. I hope you stand ready, too. But we must have these conversations respectfully, collaboratively, and peacefully. Otherwise we can’t be successful. I urge New Haven residents with all my heart to be open to these conversations and to protest but do it peacefully. We will get through this very challenging time.
Protesters moved and closed both sides of Route 34 in New Haven. The highway was closed between the merge for Interstates 95 and 91, and exit 1, according to the state Department of Transportation. That portion of the highway has since reopened.
I-95 was closed in both directions in New Haven, DOT added. I-95 north was closed between exits 48 and 50 and I-95 south was closed between exits 48 and 46.
Both sides of the highway have since fully reopened.
In Waterbury, a protest was put together by the Black Lives Matter Movement on Sunday.
They said their goal is to bring awareness to police brutality and the impact on the African American community.
Protesters had closed both sides of Interstate 84 between exits 23 and 22. Crowds of people were seen standing across all lanes of the highway.
All lanes of the highway have since reopened.
Waterbury police told residents to expect traffic delays in the downtown area of the city due to the protest.
Drivers are asked to avoid the area for the safety of the demonstrators.
Protesters gathered at Walnut Hill Park in New Britain at 4 p.m. and were marching.
Norwalk police were present at the protest on Connecticut Avenue to ensure everyone's safety and right to protest.
"By working together, we can keep our community safe and stand together against police brutality," Norwalk police said in a post on Facebook.
A portion of Connecticut Avenue was closed to traffic, according to Norwalk police. Drivers were asked to avoid the area. The road has since reopened.
I-95 northbound in Norwalk was also briefly closed between exits 13 and 14 due to protesters, DOT officials said.
The highway has since fully reopened.
Gov. Lamont Releases Statement on Protests, George Floyd
On Sunday, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont posted a video on Instagram talking about the protests following the death of George Floyd.
In the video, Lamont can be seen wearing a shirt that says "I Can't Breathe."
Lamont also mentioned the protests in Bridgeport on Saturday in the video and said he was particularly moved by words from the police chief.
According to Lamont, the Bridgeport police chief said, "I would have been out there demonstrating as well, but I was busy keeping the peace."
Lamont added that he was thankful the police were able to pretty successfully keep the peace.
Protest in Hartford on Saturday
On Saturday, protesters took to the streets in multiple cities and towns across Connecticut, including in Hartford. They gathered at Bushnell Park, where many of them voiced their anger and frustration with what they said is a lack of justice for African Americans who experience police brutality.
Some of the signs they were carrying read "No Justice, No Peace," "Black Lives Matter," and "George Floyd."
Protesters there said they want the injustices to stop and want to see different policies put in place to make sure officers are held accountable for their actions.
Protesters Close Both Sides of Route 8 in Bridgeport
Both sides of Route 8 in Bridgeport were also closed for hours on Saturday while dozens of protesters held signs across the lanes of the highway. No injuries or reports of damage were reported.
Tens of Thousands of People Protest Across the U.S.
Around the U.S., tens of thousands of people marched peacefully to protest Floyd's death, but man demonstrations sank into chaos as night fell. Cars and businesses were torched. The words “I can’t breathe” were spray-painted all over buildings. The damaged buildings include many near the White House.
Overnight curfews were imposed in more than a dozen major cities nationwide, including Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Seattle.