This post was updated at 5:33 p.m.
Hundreds of demonstrators marched through the streets of Manchester Saturday morning to protest the deaths of people of color at the hands of police departments across the country.
The marchers gathered in spite of fears of the coronavirus to join with demonstrators across America who have taken to the streets in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis earlier this week.
Led by a police escort which blocked traffic in one direction, the crowd of hundreds marched down Elm Street in Manchester. They chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “hands up, don't shoot."
Melissa Sandoval of Dover, aware of the risks from COVID-19, did her best to keep her distance from others during the march.
But she ultimately decided the risk was worth it to be heard.
“I've had to watch way too many videos of people dying right in front of me, needlessly,” said Sandoval, “people who look like my brother, people who look like me.”
While the demonstration was largely spurred by events in Minneapolis, Sandoval said the same problems of racism exist here in New Hampshire.
“I’ve lived in Dover for two years, and I’ve heard about the things that have happened in the high school,” she said, referring to a 2018 incident where Dover High School students sang a song about the Ku Klux Klan as part of a class assignment.
Maria McNaught of Merrimack also overcame her fears of the virus to join the crowd on a mobility scooter.
“I actually have an immuno-deficiency problem so I shouldn't be out among people like this, but I just couldn't let is pass,” said McNaught, through her mask. “I just had to be here.”
“This has been going on for over 400 years and it’s time to stop and it’s time for the police to start paying for what they’ve been doing,” said McNaught.
Following the march, the Manchester Police Department said the demonstration, in which it said about 800 people participated, was peaceful and that attendees “were very respectful of others, as well as police.”
One tense moment unfolded near the police department a few hours after the main demonstration, according to police. In a statement, the Manchester Police Department said that around 1:30 p.m., "a truck drove up and the occupants and the protestors had a verbal altercation. In a nearby parking lot one of the occupants of the truck got out and displayed a gun. Manchester Police Officers took that individual and one other into custody. The individuals are being booked and their identities will be released a little later on.”
Photos obtained by NHPR from a spectator show a Trump flag flying in the bed of the truck.
Later, Manchester police identified the two men arrested as Scott and Mark Kimball. Both have been charged with felony riot and criminal threatening.
In a tweet, Governor Chris Sununu said he spoke with organizers of the march Saturday morning to lend them his support.
“The State of NH stands with them in their calls for justice. This important conversation must continue and we must constructively work together as a nation to ensure there is change,” Sununu tweeted.
On Friday, Sununu was asked by reporters whether New Hampshire state troopers had acted appropriately during the arrest of an African-American man in Albany earlier this month.
A video posted on social media shows the man being dragged out of his car by two state troopers after they break his car window in after he allegedly resisted arrest.
Sununu said the state is “looking into” the incident to determine if the officers’ behavior followed policy.
(This post was updated Saturday evening with information from the Manchester Police Department about two arrests made in connection with a verbal altercation with protesters.)