SOMERVILLE, NJ - Three gatherings are expected this weekend at the Historic Somerset County Courthouse in response to the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis May 25.
A small group of protestors walked down Main Street last Sunday with signs and ended their peaceful demonstration with pictures taken at the Historic Somerset County Courthouse on East Main Street.
The first demonstration was Friday early afternoon, with about 14 protestors holding signs on the front lawn of the courthouse.
Drivers honked their horns in a show of support as they drove by. The small group was spread out on the lawn, wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
The second demonstration is scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m.; a third demonstration is expected at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, according to two of the Friday demonstrators, Somerville residents Rudy Murdock and Sarah Mess.
Damning video of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin showed Floyd in handcuffs lying face down on the street during an arrest on May 25. He was suspected of trying to pass a counterfeit bill in a nearby convenience store.
Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck for nearly 9 minutes. He and three other officers who assisted in the apprehension and arrest were fired the following day. Floyd became unresponsive during the final three minutes of Chauvin pressing his knee against his neck. Two autopsies have concluded Floyd died of asphyxiation.
On Wednesday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison upgraded a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin to second degree, while the other three officers - Tou Thao, Alexander Kueng and Thomas K. Lane - have now been charged with two counts of aiding and abetting and second-degree murder.
They have been arrested and each is being held on $1 million bail.
If convicted on both counts, the officers face a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000, according to Ellison.
The video shows Kueng holding Floyd's back, Lane holding his legs, and Thao looking on and preventing intervention by an onlooker as he stood nearby.