For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, Four Corners Park in Zelienople fell silent Wednesday evening as protesters lit candles in observance of the alleged time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against the neck of George Floyd.
About 100 protesters lined all four corners at the intersection of Grandview Avenue and Route 19 in Zelienople, some carrying signs, others candles; some kneeling, some standing with heads bowed.
“It was amazing,” Zelienople resident Danyelle Sharps said of the turnout at the quiet vigil.
Describing the need to continue the discussion of issues of race in Butler County she added, “The problem is it's not really discussed. It's behind closed doors (here). The conversation needs to happen.”
Wednesday's vigil started through the Facebook posts of a few local business owners. Congregants of Calvin Presbyterian Church in Zelienople also shared the post with a number of members and church pastor A. David Paul.
“We heard about it on Instagram,” said Sarah Troyan, of Evans City, who attended the protest with her husband and the couple's two daughters. “We want to teach our girls about the right to assemble.”
According to police at the scene, the crowd began to gather around 6 p.m. and dispersed around 9 p.m.
One officer told The Butler Eagle there was a much smaller gathering at the intersection on Tuesday evening. Police remained stationed away from protesters on Route 19 for the duration of the protest.
While the vigil concluded without incident, a man carrying a semi-automatic rifle and a holstered pistol walked past the crowd, later approaching and speaking with police.
“It was really disheartening to see someone with an assault rifle walk through the middle of a candlelight vigil,” said Alyson Eagle, who attended the vigil with family. “You could feel (emotion) shift to being scared.”
According to participants, attendees were predominantly from Zelienople and Evans City, with some family and friends coming from as far away as Erie and Pittsburgh.
“It was absolutely heartwarming,” said Josh Rajchell, of Cranberry Township, who attended with his wife. “I did not expect the turnout to be what it was.”