Evansville leaders, law enforcement prepare for Saturday protests

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Evansville city officials and local law enforcement are preparing for tomorrow’s protest downtown. As social media posts suggest the protest may not be peaceful.

8 minutes and 46 seconds – the amount of time an officer’s knee was on George Floyd’s neck – today The Evansville Police Department and the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s office holding a moment of silence for that time.

A day ahead of planned protests in Evansville, police say they have been receiving many questions about potential businesses and locations that may be targeted.

“What I would say to the public is please be assured we have taken this very serious and we have done a lot of planning and I think we are prepared for most things that could happen,” said Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin. “I have full confidence in not just my department but the sheriff’s office, state police, we are a really good team and we work really close together.”

Evansville Police say they are monitoring some perceived threats.

Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding says extra deputies will be on hand for the protest and he’s hopeful to get the public to work together.

“We wanted to show that we disapprove of what happened and we brought our agencies together to show our unity to try and work with the public as good leaders,” Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding. 

Businesses along Main Street say they are considering closing early due to the protest.

In anticipation of a large congregation – the downtown Evansville Central Library will close early at 3 p.m. tomorrow. 

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and City Council President Alex Burton say they support peaceful demonstrations and urge calm a day ahead of the protests – while also acknowledging there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“Let’s make it clear, E hasn’t always been for everyone and it’s not always today but we are striving for it,” Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said at a news conference Friday. 

Evansville City Council President Alex Burton said he’s frustrated and it’s evident something needs to change, but by keeping the streets peaceful. 

“Here we are just half a century later in a period of time that has brought a lot of confusion, uncertainty, and civil unrest that many in my generation have not witnessed in their lifetime, it is evident that systemic change is needed,” said Councilman Burton. 

Evansville Police say they are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best, and they are prepared should any violence break out this weekend.

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