Wednesday's protest in Niagara Square ended with five Buffalo police officers kneeling with protesters near the steps of City Hall.
As the 8 p.m. curfew approached, the five uniformed officers walked from two police vehicles parked in the square near Niagara Street and toward the steps of City Hall, where a few dozen demonstrators remained.
They each bent down on one knee for more than a minute, joining demonstrators in a moment of silence.
"What made you take a knee?" one protester asked the officers.
"Solidarity," an officer responded.
"Thank you so much, man," the protester said.
Afterward, the officers shook hands with some of the protesters. Some even hugged.
So this happened in #BuffaloNY almost an hour ago. Five Buffalo police officers took a knee with protesters in front of City Hall just before the 8pm curfew went into effect. pic.twitter.com/BLFhYvasRc
— Aaron Besecker (@AaronBesecker) June 4, 2020
About 15 or 20 minutes before the curfew was set to go into effect, the police approached the protesters and said that if they agreed to disperse at 8 p.m., the police would not mobilize and remove protesters from the square, according to a tweet from Ali Ingersoll of Investigative Post. If the protesters agreed, then the officers on hand would kneel with them, Ingersoll reported.
Detective Losi just approached the crowd and told them if the group agrees to disperse at 8pm, no action will be taken against them and the police who are here will come out at 7:55 and kneel with them. pic.twitter.com/Hve0frOrTq
— Ali Ingersoll (@Ali_IngNews) June 3, 2020
The scene in Niagara Square on Wednesday played out differently than about 24 hours earlier when the curfew was imposed. That was when police officers in tactical gear marched to clear the square of a few protesters.
"This is all we wanted," a protester, who would only identify himself as Juan, said afterward. "All day, this is what we wanted. We wanted them to just come over and be peaceful with us and kneel with us and show that they felt disgusted about the situation as well.
"We care about the police. We care about what they do for us. But certain police officers take it for granted, and that's what we're here for, to try to keep the peace."
He said he felt bad about what happened to the two state troopers and one Buffalo police officer Monday night on Bailey Avenue, when one was run over and two were struck by an SUV.
"They should have never had gone through that kind of situation. This is supposed to be about peace. It's not supposed to be about this," said Juan, who lives in the area but is originally from the Bronx. "Violence doesn't stop violence. So as long as we keep the peace with them and keep our word, then they'll keep their word with us."
Protesters have been demonstrating in Niagara Square since Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Minneapolis man, during a violent arrest in which a police officer pressed Floyd to the pavement with his knee on Floyd’s neck.
On Saturday night, demonstrations turned violent, with police firing tear gas, demonstrators burning a truck and vandals spraying graffiti on City Hall.