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Petaluma demonstrators joined numerous cities across the country demanding change

About 300 people marched from downtown Petaluma to the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds and back Sunday in a rally organized by Black Lives Matter to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hand of a Minneapolis police officer.

Petaluma’s demonstration remained peaceful Sunday afternoon as marchers chanted “No justice no peace,” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

Larger protests over the past five days in dozens of other cities across the country have turned violent with protesters smashing cars and burning buildings.

Petaluma police kept a light presence and did not disrupt protesters. Earlier Sunday, Petaluma Police Chief Ken Savano took to social media to condemn the Floyd killing and support the protesters’ right to gather peacefully.

Savano said on Nixle that Petaluma officers assisted Santa Rosa police in breaking up a protest that turned violent Saturday night.

“My staff has been maintaining a presence in the area of the peaceful demonstrations to protect the constitutional rights of everyone, especially those who will gather to express their feelings about the tragic death of George Floyd,” Savano wrote. “As our community moves through this event, I call on all community members to demonstrate respect and compassion for one another. Property damage and violence will not be tolerated.”

At the fairgrounds parking lot, organizer Zahyra Garcia addressed the gathered crowd with a loud speaker.

“When you hear about the feelings of black and brown communities, respect their feelings,” she said.

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