Keona Jeror stands with a fist in the air with Christopher Manigat, right, and other protesters Monday on the grass at the police station in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — A solidarity march to honor George Floyd, the black man killed by Minneapolis police last week, will be held Sunday afternoon in downtown Waterville as demonstrators across the country continue to rally and protest.

Phil Bofia

The march, to be held from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday, is being organized by former Waterville City Councilor Phil Bofia, who is black and is a current member of the city’s charter commission.

It will come following a protest Monday in Waterville in which hundreds of people lined Elm and Silver streets to denounce systemic racism in the wake of Floyd’s killing. Later Monday evening, demonstrators kneeled for 9 minutes outside the Waterville Police Department building, and they were joined by Police Chief Joseph Massey.

Bofia applied for and was granted a “meeting and assemblage permit” by the Waterville Police Department that says 50 to 200 participants and or spectators are expected to attend Sunday’s march.

Floyd, 46, died May 25 after Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, 44, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes as Floyd was handcuffed and on the ground, saying he could not breathe. Floyd, who is black, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Chauvin, who is white, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second degree manslaughter. The charge was upgraded this week to second-degree murder. He and three other police officers were fired after the killing.


Since Floyd’s death, protests have been held all over the country and world. A memorial service was held Thursday for Floyd in Minneapolis.

Bofia, the organizer for Sunday’s Waterville march, did not immediately respond to phone and email messages Thursday. But Bofia said on the march’s Facebook page this week that the march initially was set for Saturday but he rescheduled to Sunday, the rain date.

“This is a march in solidarity of the Floyd family,” Bofia wrote on the Facebook page, “and an opportunity for any resident to peacefully dialog with African American/Minorities men and women from Waterville and surrounding towns to help understand their perspectives on the current issues with police brutality and racial discrimination.”

Bofia continued in his post: “This is a peaceful march, we will be observing social distancing rules and please wear mask if you have one.”

As of Thursday evening, the Facebook page listed 103 people as planning to attend the march and another 371 interested.

Marchers plan to start at Goodwill Industries on The Concourse, go to the Spring Street sidewalk, turn north on Elm Street and proceed to the intersection of Main Street, wind around the old Post Office Square and move south on Main Street to Castonguay Square, a city-owned park next to City Hall, where marchers will stop and speeches will be held.


“I’m happy that Phil Bofia is organizing this because I know he has a commitment for a peaceful march,” Waterville City Manager Michael Roy said Thursday afternoon. “That is the most important thing from the city’s point of view, that we can show other cities, places, that we can gather peacefully to make our concerns known. And I like to think I am speaking for the elected officials in that we are always willing to listen and try to play a constructive role in mediating people’s concerns, trying to address people’s concerns.”

Joseph Massey, chief of the Waterville Police Department, takes a knee in solidarity with demonstrator Monday during a peaceful protests at the police station in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

Roy asked that people wear masks at the event and practice social distancing to protect themselves and others because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re pleading with them to wear masks,” he said. “We understand there’s an inconvenience to it, but the risk at this point in time, we believe, is just too great.”

Roy said he expects to attend the march. “I have plans for Sunday morning but I believe I am going and will do everything I can to make it,” he said.

Massey, Waterville’s police chief, said Thursday that participants will march on sidewalks but if the sidewalks can not accommodate all the people, barricades will be set up to allow them more room.

He said police will be on hand to help provide for a safe event for everyone. He anticipates it will be peaceful.

“We are just hoping for a good event,” Massey said. “I’m committed to making sure folks have a right to a peaceful and productive protest. We want a safe event.”

The Waterville Police Department permit, issued to Bofia and signed by  Massey, lists special conditions and comments about how the event may be conducted, including that people may not demonstrate, picket and-or educate on private property without a property owner’s permission; they may not block or obstruct access to, or egress from, private property without the owner’s permission; and they may not block or obstruct access to, or egress from, any public building, public parking lot and-or public property.

Also, people may not demonstrate, picket and-or educate on or across any public roadway not designated by traffic cones; extend hand-held or fixed signs, posters or other material into the roadway; or block or interfere with pedestrian traffic on sidewalks.

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