Protesters kneel at MLK memorial in DC to honor George Floyd and others who died in police custody

Nicholas Wu, Maureen Groppe, Michelle R. Martinelli, Rebecca Morin and Tom Schad, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON —  Protesters in D.C. paid a visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial while demonstrating against the death of a black man while in police custody. 

The group on Thursday knelt at the MLK memorial for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, to remember how long George Floyd was being pinned down by a Minneapolis police officer while saying he couldn't breathe. 

While kneeling, the demonstrators listened as the names of people who died in police custody were read through a speaker system. 

Maya Taybron, a 15-year-old high schooler from Washington, DC, said she had joined the group rallying at the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial because so many African Americans had been treated “badly for no reason, just for the color of our skin.”

It meant a lot to her to have the rally at the memorial, she said. “It’s a good place to fight for our rights.”

Her brother, Keyon Taybron, a 19-year-old college student, agreed. There “couldn’t have been a better place” to rally because of King’s legacy, he said.

Thursday's protest through the city is the latest in a weeklong effort and part of nationwide demonstrations being held in Floyd's name. 

The group began walking toward Capitol Hill to continue the day of protests. The week of demonstrations in DC has been a mix of peaceful and combative moments, highlighted by the use of chemical irritants against peaceful protesters on Monday to seemingly clear the way for President Trump to visit a nearby church. 

The rest of the week has seen largely peaceful protesting well past the daily curfew with military police officers monitoring activity and altering protest zones. 

Protests on Thursday included a group near the White House, where Taji Kelly, a 28-year-old restaurant manager, spoke to a crowd at Lafayette Square for several minutes about raising children. 

“If you come from privilege, tell them what privilege is. And tell them how to use their privilege to give back to the voiceless," she said. 

Paul Tue, a 40-year-old Maryland eastern shore resident, told USA TODAY he was there to help “bring some awareness to the unfair treatment of black people” and to call on people to be “anti-racist.”

He gave a speech in front of the crowd at Lafayette Park and called on them to be “anti-racist.” To him, that involved practices like voting, and frequenting black businesses. There was “no more room for a passive approach,” he said.

Asked what he thought of Trump’s response to the protests, he laughed and said “we heard from the president for the first time yesterday,” referring to former President Barack Obama’s remarks on Wednesday evening.

It was “disheartening” for him to see Trump’s response, he said. “For the first time in 40 years, I’m ashamed to be an American.” 

Just after 6 p.m., DC protesters were given a pop-up concert on city streets near the White House, listening to songs like "Lean It Be" and “Hallelujah.” 

The band, Crush Funk Brass, came out to the area near the White House to entertain the protesters, who eventually kept walking through DC. 

The diverse crowd included people like Bailey and Oliver Mills from Alexandria, Va. The brother and sister brought dozens of Krispy Kreme donuts to pass out.

“We’re just trying to share peace right now, share love,” said Bailey Mills, 22. “And who doesn’t like donuts?“

Kirsten Langhorne, 51, of Virginia said she came to the protests Thursday and Tuesday after seeing so many people exposing themselves to the virus & potential violence to speak out.

Her hand-lettered sign read: “I cry 4 you. I yell 4 you. I vote 4 you. I listen 2 you. BLM”

Langhorne said she wanted to communicate “that I’m listening.”

“If not now, when?,” she said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: George Floyd: DC protest includes stop at MLK memorial