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Columbia City mayor: protesters remained calm

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COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) -- Like communities across the country, hundreds of people held a peaceful demonstration on the Whitley County courthouse lawn to protest the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

But as the protesters observed eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence, the length of time an officer was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck, a string of loud vehicles rode by.

"Freedom of speech goes lots of different ways," says Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel.

Daniel says while the drivers are entitled to express their opinions, he was proud that their demonstration didn't spark a negative reaction from the crowd.

"We didn't see any outbursts, we didn't see any violence, we didn't see any rioting, we didn't see anything like that. And so I think what you see is really the true value of our community which is togetherness and looking for a solution to the future," he says.

Columbia City Mayor Daniel says police officers attended the vigil and got along well with the residents who were there.

We asked some residents what they thought about the gathering.

"Seemed like everybody was doing pretty good over here. It didn't get out of hand or nothing, so that's about all, you know?" Brenda Wyland says.

"There was trucks going by during the vigil, revving their engines during the moment of silence. What did you think? They could have maybe kept quiet while that was going on in respect of the guy that passed away," Kaylin Ritchie says.

Mayor Daniel says police officers attended the vigil and got along well with the residents who were there.

"I think the perception of this is an all-white community or things like that I think is really starting to dissipate. We continue to become more diverse in our population, and I think as a country and certainly as a state, we are becoming more diverse. And I think that has opened up a lot of potential for these conversations," he says.

He says the peaceful nature of the protest, and the fact that there hasn't been any violence in Columbia City, is representative of what his community embodies.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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