Protesters in Lawrenceville who were upset over the death of George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis found someone in local law enforcement willing to listen to their concerns on Sunday night: Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway.
The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office said Conway walked into the crowd in downtown Lawrenceville to talk with protesters. The office said he also escorted the protesters as they headed back to their cars as the protest winded down.
“The tension was palpable when Sheriff Butch Conway got out of his patrol vehicle, walked directly into the angry crowd and began speaking with them,” sheriff’s office said in a statement on Facebook. “He listened to them, chatted a while and eventually walked with them to their vehicles parked several blocks away. It was the best possible outcome.”
The Sheriff’s Office highlighted the importance of law enforcement listening to the protesters and hearing their concerns, calling listening “vital to communication.” A major part of the protests is anger at the way minorities feel they are mistreated by law enforcement.
A frequent chant heard at protests has been “No justice, no peace,” in response to the death of Floyd.
“A common trait shared among most law enforcement officers is their care and concern for others, including strangers,” the sheriff’s office said. “It’s hard to be a good law enforcement officer if you don’t care about people. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of officers do and their actions reflect that caring.
“Listening is vital to communication and it’s hard to listen to people when they’re attacking you or screaming at you. It’s also hard to be heard when you’re being placed in the back of a patrol car under arrest. Nobody wins that way.”
The statement from the Sheriff’s Office, as well as the video, came hours before protests were set to begin at Lawrenceville and Sugar Hill city halls.
“Sheriff Conway and this group of protesters clearly demonstrated the value of setting aside emotion and listening to one another,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “We hope to see more of this interaction as our nation moves forward. Together.”