Protesters march peacefully at Gates of Prosper

Lisa Ferguson
Prosper Press
Dozens of protesters carrying signs head north in the crosswalk at Preston Road at Richland Boulevard in Prosper on June 4 as a Prosper Police officer on a bicycle stands nearby. The protest over the death of George Floyd began around 2 p.m. outside the Dick's Sporting Goods store at the Gates of Prosper. In the mid-afternoon heat, participants peacefully made their way around the perimeter of the shopping center before returning to the sidewalk in front of the store where they observed eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence in honor of Floyd. The event wrapped up around 5 p.m.

Dozens of protesters made their way around the sidewalks and parking lots at the Gates of Prosper on June 4, rallying over the death of George Floyd.

In the searing afternoon heat, the protesters – a good many of them teens and young adults - met outside the Dick’s Sporting Goods store around 2 p.m. before walking en masse more than once around the expansive shopping center.

The protest lasted about three hours.

Carrying handmade signs and chanting “Black Lives Matter,” “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe,” among other phrases, members of the group made their way along Richland Boulevard toward Preston Road before turning at the crosswalk and heading toward the northern edge of the shopping center while at least one Prosper Police officer rode nearby on a bicycle.

The protesters re-entered the complex’s parking lot and continued, eventually crossing back over Richland Boulevard. Prosper Police officers were stationed there and directed vehicle traffic to allow the group safe passage across the street.

After returning to Dick’s Sporting Goods, which was closed during the event, the protesters sat on the hot concrete sidewalk and prayed. They also observed eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence in memory of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was killed May 25 by a white Minneapolis police officer.

Floyd’s death, which was captured on video, prompted protests and civil unrest nationwide.

Prosper resident Scott Ross said he participated in the local protest “in honor of all the people who’ve lost their lives due to police brutality.”

Jackson, a 21-year-old Prosper resident who declined to provide his last name, said he was protesting to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

“This isn’t even the first time we’ve seen video of a murder,” he said, “but something about this one … you can see the life leaving (Floyd). … It's untenable and I think we’re hitting a breaking point,” Jackson said.

“I think that my role here is to show that there are people in Prosper who feel these things, too. … As important as the protests are in Dallas and Houston and big cities, if people don’t come out in small towns, too, then it silences our voices.”

Olivia, a 12-year-old Prosper student, said she attended the protest “because we want to fight for black lives. … Black lives do matter, and it’s just not fair that … they just have to go through what people are putting them in.”

The preteen added, “Prosper is a peaceful place, so it’s gonna be a peaceful protest and … we can join together and fight for black lives.”

Bobbie, a Prosper resident in her 40s who did not reveal her full name, shared a statement that she intended to post on social media.

It read, in part: “First of all, black lives matter. How this is remotely controversial, I will never understand. … Black people should be afforded the same dignity and humanity as all other people.”

Also, Bobbie expressed that “suggesting that people who riot and people who protest are the same people is patently false. … A riot should have no effect on your support for people protesting. Support the protesters because you’re both part of the same humanity.”

Several members of the Prosper Police Department, including Chief Doug Kowalski, Assistant Chief Scott Brewer and several of its chaplains, as well as Prosper ISD Police Department officers observed and interacted with protesters as they congregated on the sidewalk outside of the sporting goods store.

“I think that they’ve been very, very peaceful (and) very, very respectful,” Brewer said of the participants. “We always admire whenever folks want to come out and exercise their constitutional rights. … The feedback I’ve gotten from them is that they were pleased that we were here and that we helped to keep them safe.”

Kowalski said most of the protesters were residents of the town.

“We enjoy a very good relationship between the community and the Prosper Police Department,” he said. “We believe in community policing and this is an example of it. They respected us and we respected them, as it should be.”

Protesters carrying signs and chanting "Hands up, don't shoot" and "I can't breathe," among others, make their way through the parking lot at the Gates of Prosper on June 4. [Lisa Ferguson / Prosper Press]