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Florida police, Sarasota marchers kneel at protest

State and local law enforcement kneeled down in solidarity following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

SARASOTA, Fla. — Hundreds of protesters moved through the streets of downtown Sarasota Tuesday evening shouting, “Say his name -- George Floyd!” and calling on police patrolling the march to "kneel with us."

In a moving moment, Florida State Trooper Cpl. Ostermeyer got out of his patrol-SUV and joined a group of young marchers in the center of the circle to kneel down in prayer.    

The gesture drew huge applause and drew some protesters to tears -- it wouldn't be the first such expression of the day.

“It’s a first step to many,” said Rob Tribby of Bradenton who had a moment with the State trooper at the center of the circle. “We need more cops like this. 

"There’s a lot of cops just like him, but we need a system that serves true justice."

The line of marchers moved around to the front of the Sarasota Police Headquarters where members of the department’s command staff addressed the crowd.

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“We want to make sure we are living up to our obligation," said Sarasota Deputy Chief of Police Patrick Robinson. “We take your safety and the safety of our community and we kneel with you in solidarity.” 

The deputy chief and patrol commander both kneeled down, which again drew huge applause from the crowd.

The march ended peacefully near the building’s front entrance where marchers repeatedly chanted Floyd’s name in remembrance.

“I believe in their right to protest and that’s why we’re here,” said Ostermeyer, who after the event called the moment one of the most special of his career. “It’s time, in my opinion, for everyone to come together and do a lot more listening to each other. What occurred was not right. That’s not how we’re trained.  

"It’s all in how you talk to people. People don’t like to be talked down to. You treat people like humans. I treat people just like I want to be treated."

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