CNN  — 

As protesters gather in Minneapolis, Atlanta, Charlotte and other cities across the US, frustration continues to grow over the death of George Floyd.

“There needs to be change, officers need to be trained better,” one protester who was arrested in Atlanta told CNN’s Nick Valencia as he was being detained by police.

A lack of change and police reform are just some of the reasons people are enraged.

“This protest is not just about George Floyd, and when people are looking at these protesters – this rebellion that’s going on around the country – I hope they have some empathy because these people are going home. We are going home, black folk are going home, brown folk are going home and drinking dirty water, going to poor schools, not having access to quality care and so this is bubbling over,” said CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers.

Here what some of them had to say:


Leslie Redmond, president of Minneapolis NAACP

“What you’re witnessing in Minnesota is something that’s been a long time coming,” Redmond told CNN affiliate WCCO-TV.

“I can’t tell you how many governors I’ve sat down with, how many mayors we’ve sat down with. And we’ve warned them that if you keep murdering black people, the city will burn. We have stopped the city from burning numerous times, and we are not responsible for it burning now.”

Payton Bowdry, 22

“We have to advocate for justice, true justice to happen,” Bowdry told CNN.

Bowdry said things getting violent weren’t part of the plan.

“Riots were not part of the protests,” he said. “The looting and rioting wasn’t in George Floyd’s name.”

Alicia Smith, a community organizer

“There are no words in the English language that will convey the despair that I felt watching that man’s life leave his body and him scream out for his mother,” Smith told CNN. “I heard my son saying, ‘Mama, save me.’”

“My kids are little boys, and my son asked me, ‘Am I going to live to be a grown-up?’” she told CNN. “I’ve got to ruin his innocence and tell him how to exist as a young black boy in this country.”

Shanene Herbert, community organizer

“They (young people) have experienced trauma,” she told CNN. “Seeing your friends, your families and even yourself harassed by the police and killed by the police, it’s traumatic. And they don’t know what to do with that.”


Kass Ottley, a community activist

“There are a lot of things that need to change for us to move forward, but I think everybody needs to be honest about what the real problems are,” Ottley told CNN affiliate WCCB-TV. “How many times can you address the same issue and see nothing change.”

Greg Jackson, the founder of Heal Charlotte

“You have to remember that they ain’t mad at one situation,” Jackson told WCCB. “It’s systematic change that needs to happen.”


“Everyone’s ready for a change, ready to get together,” a woman identified as Bambara told CNN affiliate WSB-TV. She also said the stakes were too high to stay at home.

“I literally can’t breathe, can’t think, because I know at any time my life, or my brother’s or my friends’ life are in danger just because of the color of their skin,” she said.

New York

Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner

“This is just opening up an old wound and pouring salt into it,” Carr told CNN affiliate WABC-TV on Thursday. “The police officers come into our neighborhoods to brutalize, terrorize, and murder our children, and we have done nothing.”


Max Bailey, 22

Bailey was tossed from the hood of a car during a protest and told CNN affiliate KDVR-TV he’d do it again. Bailey said he jumped on the hood of a black SUV because he was worried the driver might run him over.

“If you can tell me something better for me to do – if you can tell me a way that we could change the world without trying to make noise like that, then I’ll get out of the streets. If you can show me the path, I’ll get out of the streets,” he said. “I won’t stand in front of no cars anymore if there’s an easy path.”

Kansas City

Randy Fikki, protester

“If you don’t speak up and don’t say anything, you’re just like the officers that stood by and watched,” Fikki told CNN affiliate WDAF-TV, adding many people try to ignore race or say they don’t see color. He believes that’s part of the problem.

“Your ignorance is not proof of your innocence,” he said. “The fact that you are remaining ignorant, you are no different than the individual who had their knee on that gentlemen’s neck.”

Anna Maria Kretzer, mother of 10-year-old boy

“I have to have a talk with him to make sure he doesn’t grow up to be one of those cops who kills a black man or a black woman,” she told WDAF. “I have to make sure that cycle doesn’t continue to him.”

Portland, Oregon

Chelsea Peterson, protester

“I protested tonight to show my solidarity with my black brothers and sisters that are being openly murdered in the streets by the people that are supposed to be protecting them. I protested for all of the black women who die disproportionately in child birth compared to their white counterparts. I protested for black men who are disproportionately arrested and convicted for crimes compared to their white counterparts. And I protested for black children that are shot over bags of Skittles.

“I protested because black lives matter and because it is not enough to simply share a post or use a hashtag, and because silence is complicity. It was important for me as a white person to actually show up because it is our responsibility to dismantle the systems of oppression that we have created.”

Oakland, California

Mackenzie Slagle, protester

“I participated because it’s about time this police brutality has to stop. I don’t agree with breaking into all of the businesses, but I can understand the outrage after repeated incidents. We’ve peacefully protested all of those… it wasn’t until Minneapolis got violent they finally arrested a police officer. This is truly history in the fact that there’s actual action being taken against police brutality. I couldn’t stay silent and watch this happen again. I’m hoping this time – our nation can see the severity of this climate.

“I’m a white woman, and I needed to show up for all my brothers and sisters. I needed to show that this isn’t okay to ME. That could be my friend. I needed to be there and show I want change.”

Charlotte, North Carolina

Craig Maxwell, protester

“I’ve been talking to several of my black friends the last day or two and hearing what they’re going through. A lot of introspection and recognizing that I don’t put my money where my mouth is enough. Basically, I was there because they were there, if that makes sense.

“I couldn’t keep waiting for there to be something more immediate in my life that got me out there. It can’t be about me; otherwise, it won’t work. I needed to step up my advocacy. I showed myself more of what I was capable of tonight and it helped me connect to purpose for why I should protest. As uncomfortable as I may have been, not everyone gets to walk away from the situation just because it’s uncomfortable… Until you’re there looking someone in the eye, you’re not connecting with them as fully as you should.”