Roughly 50 people – young, old and racially diverse – gathered in Reagan Park Monday night to protest the gruesome death of African American George Floyd, 46, after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes.
“I'm here hoping for justice,” Will Brule, 76, a former city councilman, told the Herald-Press.
Video footage from May 25 showed Floyd, handcuffed and unarmed, pleading for Chauvin to let him breathe.
Callum Parkes, a 22-year-old African American from Palestine, said he was encouraged to see people of different races at the rally.
“Everyone else sees the injustices facing our community as well,'' he said. “If we bond together, we can make these changes.”
Floyd's death has sparked protests nationwide. Some have turned violent, including property damage, looting, and vandalism.
In several cities, however, including Baltimore, New York, and Coral Gable, Florida, police officers kneeled in solidarity with the protesters.
Late Monday afternoon, rumors circulated around town that people from outside the region were coming to Palestine to turn the protest violent. That never happened.
The protest in Palestine remained peaceful, as people lit candles and, at 8:46 p.m., took a knee in remembrance of Floyd's death. They remained on one knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds – the time Chauvin had his knee on Floyd's neck, before he suffocated.
“I will never forget George Floyd,” said Liz Cotton, 34, of Palestine. “Thank you, Lord, for sending us George Floyd. It was disgusting how he died, but I just believe something incredible will come from this.”
Rick Paris, 64, of Palestine, said “the time for justice has come, because God is just.
“I believe, by God's grace, the American revolution of justice and equality will finally be completed.”
Martin Escobedo, 31, a computer teacher at Palestine Junior High School, said his students had prompted him to come. “I had to show up for them,” he said. “It's a humanity issue. It's not just a black issue or a white issue.”
Elsewhere, authorities have imposed curfews on dozens of cities across the United States, the most since the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968.
In a practically unprecedented move, President Trump threatened to send the U.S. military into states that could not quell the protests themselves “to do the job for them.”
To activate the military to operate in the United States, Trump would need to invoke the 213-year-old Insurrection Act, which sources familiar with the decision had told NBC News he planned to do.
“I just feel he's trying to run the country with fear, rather than love,” Escobedo said.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined leaders in Georgia, Missouri, and Minnesota in declaring a statewide state of emergency.
Abbott urged Texans to “exercise their First Amendment rights," but also called “violence against others and the destruction of property is unacceptable and counterproductive"
There have been protests in cities across Texas, including in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Roughly 90 people were arrested at protests that began Saturday night and lasted until early Sunday in Dallas.
Diane Davis, a local community activist, thanked Anderson County Democratic Women for organizing the local event. “I'm just grateful to see so many young people out tonight,” she said.