Erie leaders look back on the one year anniversary of the downtown protest and riot

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This week marks the one year anniversary of the death of George Floyd and the violent protests in Erie. Tonight we take a look back at the scene.

Has the relationship between police and the Erie community gotten better after last year’s marches, protests and riots?

The Erie Police Department, the mayor, and community leaders said that things are getting better, but there’s still work that needs to be done in the City of Erie and across America.

May 30th, 2020 is the day many people came out to peacefully protest the death of George Floyd, but peace turned into a riot here in Perry Square.

George Floyd was murdered at the hands of Minneapolis Police. His death sparked conversations about the relationship between police and the community.

Niecey Nicole is a retired civil servant who worked closely with police for 11 years at the state prison in Albion.

Nichole said that she has seen the best and worst between police and communities across the nation.

She said that police officers want to change the narrative that all cops aren’t bad cops.

“I feel that it’s very important that we try not to change history. We don’t erase facts,” said Niecey Nicole, Retired Civil Servant, Activist, and Writer.

It’s all peaceful now, but after the night of May 30th, Chief of Erie Police Daniel Spizarny said that his department realized there is still work that needs to be done.

“We do our best, it’s not always perfect and I think we continue to build on the relationships we have,” said Daniel Spizarny, Chief of Police, Erie Police Department.

Spizarny said that the department has launched community outreach programs to connect more with communities of color.

He said that he’s fortunate Erie didn’t have a similar situation to what happened in Minneapolis.

“But it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. We do our best to prevent stuff like that from happening and it’s all we can do. Keep trying our best,” said Spizarny.

Mayor Joe Schember said that his focus has always been to improve the relationships between police and communities of color.

“I think we all need to start accepting each other and valuing each other and Erie would become a great place where everyone wants to be,” said Mayor Joe Schember, (D), City of Erie.

With both the mayor and the chief of police seeing hope at the end of the tunnel, the president of the NAACP of Erie believes there doesn’t seem to be much progress in the hands of congress.

The president of the NAACP of Erie does recognize however that the mayor is trying to combat racism in Erie.

“Even I hope for the day not just in Erie Pennsylvania, but across this country. We have better community relationships and particularly with how black people and black men are viewed by law enforcement,” said Gary Horton, President of Erie’s NAACP.

Although all four believe that there is still work that needs to be done, Nicole said that she doesn’t want anyone to feel afraid of the blue uniform.

Spizarny and the mayor said that they’re hoping more communities of color can apply to different positions within the fire and police department in order to continue to build the relationship between the community and law enforcement.

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