Even a small city like Erie, just a few miles north, had a dangerous night after the protests in the city got out of control.
While Pittsburgh and Erie were erupting, an 18-year-old Meadville High School senior was making plans for a peaceful march in her town. Social media exploded with support and concerns. There were a few keyboard warriors spewing hate and others afraid the same thing that was happening in cities across America was going to happen here.
Jaida Speed (center above with megaphone) and her mom, Christina Smith, insisted that Meadville was better than that and they would show everyone that a peaceful demonstration was possible.
At noon Sunday a group of around 100 people - white people, black people, people of mixed races and cultures, young people and old people - walked together down North Main Street from First District School. They chanted a few slogans like "No Justice, No Peace," and "Black Lives Matter."
At the Diamond, the organizers asked all those who were able to spread out to find a place to lay down on the ground. They were symbolizing the position of George Floyd when he drew his last breath. They lay there for seven minutes with chants of "I Can't Breathe." A two minute moment of silence followed to demonstrate Floyd's unconscious silence while still being held down under the knee of the Minneapolis police officer.
The only disruption to the peaceful demonstration other than a few car horns and drive-by shouts out the window came from a man who began engaging the demonstrators with chants of "All Lives Matter." A small handful of demonstrators responded to the man, but the consensus was to focus on the peaceful protest and ignore the man. There were no physical altercations and the demonstrators continued their march.
Smith and Speed both thanked the crowd and implored them to remain peaceful moving forward. Smith thank God for helping them do what they set out to do.
Meadville mayor Leroy Stearns followed the march and stayed close. He witnessed a couple vehicles that seemed to be hovering around the demonstrators. He said he just wanted to keep an eye on everything because he wanted to protect his city and the people in it. "I am proud of my city and the residents that participated. It was outside influence that was my concern," he said after the demonstration.
"Does everyone here realize how important this moment right here is," Smith asked the group as the officers stood about to address the crowd. She and Speed thanked them for taking the time to stop over and join them in a moment of silence.
Tautin denounced the violent way the Minneapolis police handled George Floyd's arrest saying that is not how his officers are trained. He spoke words of appreciation for the protesters and peaceful nature of the gathering. He and Stefanucci also posed for several photos with the participants.