In a statement released on the Lewiston Police Department's Facebook page, Chief Brian O'Malley addressed his and the department's feelings over the death of George Floyd and encouraged peaceful marches and protests.

On May 29, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Video take on May 25 shows Chauvin's knee held on Floyd's neck for nearly 9 minutes as he was held to the ground after being arrested, having been accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill.

Since then marches and protests have been held all over the country, some peaceful and others violent. Protests have been held here in Maine as well, the largest in Portland and Lewiston where hundreds turned out to march.

Lewiston Police Chief Brian O'Malley said in a statement that he found the video of Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck "disturbing and upsetting" and that no one at the Lewiston Police Department believes it was justified.

Lewiston's protest march on Sunday went on peacefully and Chief O'Malley encouraged those that wish to march continue to do so in a non-violent way.

Here's the complete text of Chief O'Malley's statement:

I am releasing this statement in regards to the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Watching the video of a police officer kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck was disturbing and upsetting. My sympathies go out to the friends, and family of George Floyd and all of those who have been effected by this tragedy.

There is no one here at the Lewiston Police Department who believes what happened to Mr. Floyd was justified. What I observed on the video was shocking and this type of behavior reflects negatively not only on the police officers of Minneapolis but on law enforcement officers nationwide.

The Lewiston Police Department conducts training and has policies in place such as use of force, defensive tactics, and bias based policing that prevent the type of behavior that led to Mr. Floyd’s death. People are understandably frustrated with what occurred in Minneapolis and many have protested peacefully to enact change in their communities and nationwide. The city of Lewiston had a protest march yesterday in which people were able to express themselves in a peaceful manner. I continue to encourage those who want to march or protest to do so in a nonviolent way.

The Lewiston Police Department works in collaboration with area groups, such as the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine, to create an atmosphere of partnership with the community so we can work to enhance the overall quality of life for all of our residents. The Lewiston Police Department strives to do this through mutual trust and respect and the fair and equitable enforcement of law, while carefully safeguarding the dignity of all who we serve.

Chief Brian O'Malley

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