Chattanooga police officers take a knee with protesters in sign of solidarity

Three Chattanooga Police Department officers take a knee thumbnail
Three Chattanooga Police Department officers take a knee thumbnail
photo Staff Photo by Troy Stolt / Three Chattanooga Police Department officers take a knee after a crowd of protesters asked them to do it in a show of solidarity as they protested Monday night for an end to police brutality.

As more than a hundred protesters on their knees chanted "Take a knee" outside the federal courthouse building in Chattanooga Monday night, a few law enforcement officers joined them.

At a peaceful protest in Miller Park organized by activist and City Council candidate Marie Mott in honor of George Floyd - a black man killed by police in Minnesota - organizers chanted for the dozens of CPD officers to take a knee with them.

Capt. Jerri Sutton and Assistant Chief Danna Vaughn knelt on the sidewalk. Mott, who has led multiple peaceful demonstrations over the last three days, knelt across from them.

"We come trying to go to the city council and mayors and talking and talking," Mott pled. "We want change, we need change. Thank you."

Nathan Cullom, a contracted security officer and a retired police officer, also kneeled.

photo Staff photo by Sarah Grace Taylor / In a show of solidarity with protesters, Chattanooga Police Department officers Capt. Jerri Sutton, at left in the foreground, and Assistant Chief Danna Vaughn kneel with city council candidate and protest organizer Marie Mott, right, on Monday, June 1, 2020.

Cullom, who is black, said it wasn't a difficult decision.

"It's the right thing to do. It's justice," Cullom said. "I live in this skin everyday."

While the officers were praised for their decision to kneel in solidarity, many of the roughly 250 activists shouted "take a knee" at the remaining police, some calling those who refused to do so "cowards."

One protester shouted, "So you can take a knee on our necks, but not on the concrete?"

Even so, the moment was a welcomed contrast to events during Sunday's protests, which soured when a small handful of activists vandalized the county courthouse. The vandalism was met with tear gas, arrests and physical altercations with Hamilton County Sheriff's Office deputies just blocks away on Georgia Avenue.

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