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Portage prepping for today's police protest by closing access to downtown
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Portage prepping for today's police protest by closing access to downtown

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PORTAGE — Police are closing the downtown section of Central Avenue beginning at 4 p.m. today for a protest over last week's death of George Floyd, a black man who was in the custody of Minneapolis police.

The city's main roadway will be closed to traffic from Willowcreek Road east to Hamstrom Road, police said.

Business traffic will be allowed to leave Central Avenue, but not enter, according to police. Residents of Teresa, Eleanor and Lois streets, and Lexington Avenue will be allowed access to their homes.

The protest is scheduled from 5-8 p.m. in the grassy area just east of the city's downtown police station at 6260 Central Ave., police said.

"The command staff of the Portage Police Department has been in communication with event organizers throughout the weekend and today to ensure there are clear boundaries set for the mutual benefit of everyone involved," the department said in a prepared release.

The department goes on to thank organizers for reaching out ahead of time and working cooperatively with city government "to ensure their message is heard and the safety of everyone is maintained," police said. "We hope this event will bring pride to the City of Portage as example of what is possible when law enforcement and citizens work together for the benefit of the entire community."

The protest area is made up of commercial buildings and nearby residences.

The protest comes in the wake of gatherings across the country the last few days, including ones in Hammond, Merrillville, Valparaiso and Michigan City. While many attending the local protests have not created problems, there have been instances of police stepping in to use tear gas, pepper spray and making arrests as individuals damaged property and marched toward and on highways.

The racially-mixed protests nationwide have come in the wake of a video showing a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd's neck May 25 as he told police, "I can't breathe." Floyd, 59, died that day following the confrontation with police.

Gallery: Protesters, police clash at Southlake Mall

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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