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Protest in IM: Marchers turn out to support national movement

A GROUP MARCHED through Iron Mountain on Wednesday as part of nationwide protests triggered by the death of George Floyd on May 25 after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (Betsy Bloom/Daily News photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — A group of marchers in Iron Mountain on Wednesday made local the nationwide protests over the Memorial Day death of a man at the hands of Minneapolis police.

The group first assembled at 3 p.m. alongside City Hall, then proceeded with signs and chants as far north as the Hardee’s restaurant and as far south as the Super One Foods parking area. Most of its march was along U.S. 2, which in Iron Mountain also is Stephenson Avenue.

The protests were triggered by the death of George Floyd on May 25 after being restrained by former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, who was caught on video pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck until he became unresponsive.

Wednesday, Minnesota prosecutors charged three more police officers — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death and filed a new, tougher second-degree murder charge against Chauvin.

At its height, the group in Iron Mountain on Wednesday swelled to about 70, though it thinned visibly as the demonstration returned to City Hall after looping through the downtown. The marchers paused at the Dickinson County Courthouse to take a knee or sit down on the front walkway.

THE PROTESTORS FIRST set up Wednesday at Iron Mountain City Hall, waving signs and chanting to vehicles passing by on Stephenson Avenue in the downtown. (Betsy Bloom/The Daily News)

The protest remained peaceful, even though supporters of President Donald Trump — many gathered across from City Hall at The Wishing Well gift shop, which has a prominent window display of Trump-related merchandise — several times confronted the marchers. Organizers repeatedly advised the group not to respond to provocation, though some did shout back in kind when Trump supporters yelled obscenities. Motorists also declared themselves for Trump by honking horns or loudly revving engines while passing the march.

Others who drove by gave the marchers a thumb’s up or cheers in response.

One woman, who did not want to give her name, said she was in the march to monitor what happened to her son. She noted the demonstration was not about Trump or politics but about combating racism.

Drew Shanafelt of Niagara, Wis., said he called for the march Wednesday to give those in the region who support the nationwide protests a chance to express their views.

“The whole state, the whole nation, is stepping out. Iron Mountain hadn’t done that yet,” Shanafelt said. “I just thought it would be nice to have everyone come out and support.”

Kylie Remer, a Kingsford City Council member, said the event showed it is possible to have a peaceful protest.

“We just wanted to raise awareness that black lives matter,” Remer said. “Everyone should have a voice — if you are silent, you are complicit.”

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