Thousands rally in Houston to protest George Floyd's death


HOUSTON (AP) - In Houston, the city where George Floyd grew up, several thousand people shut down a downtown freeway Friday as they marched after a rally to protest his death while in police custody in Minneapolis.

The protesters ended up alongside Interstate 69, usually one of Houston’s more heavily traveled traffic arteries before the coronavirus lockdown thinned the traffic. A group of about 60 to 70 started by running to the freeway, where they marched for at least half an hour, shutting down traffic. Houston police accompanied the protesters as they marched for less than a half mile along the freeway before leaving it.

No arrests were made, and the protesters then walked to a nearby park.

The rally earlier at the City Hall plaza was mostly peaceful, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said, but police apparently took into custody a woman who had a rifle and tried to use it to arouse the crowd.

The crowd marched down streets in downtown Houston to get to City Hall, chanting “No justice, no peace” and “Say his name. George Floyd.” Many brandished placards bearing the slogans, “I Can’t Breathe” and “Justice For George.”

Protests have spread across the U.S., fueled by outrage over Floyd’s death, and years of violence against African Americans at the hands of police. On Friday, the white Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck was arrested and charged with murder.

About 100 chanting, placard-brandishing protesters marched through the streets of downtown Fort Worth, escorted by police, on Friday afternoon. Another 100 placard-bearing protesters massed in front of Dallas police headquarters to listen to community-activist speakers, also under the watchful eyes of police. Both demonstrations appeared peaceful, and there were no immediate reports of disturbances or arrests.

At the end of the Houston rally, several hundred protesters left City Hall and marched along downtown streets, blocking traffic and at times stopping at different intersections to chant “no justice, no peace,” before heading to I-69.

Acevedo said he welcomed the rally.

“We stand with them protesting what happened in Minnesota,” he said. “I’m happy that they’re here today because people need to be heard, voices need to be heard.”

One of those protesting Floyd’s death was Jimmy Ohaz, 19, who came from Richmond, a Houston suburb.

“My question is: How many more, how many more? I just want to live in a future where we all live in harmony and we’re not oppressed,” he said.

Associated Press writer Terry Wallace in Dallas contributed to this report.