Roughly 300 people from throughout the county gathered in front of Ames’ City Hall on Saturday evening, chanting “No justice, no peace.”

Some were holding signs bearing phrases such as “We remember,” “Black lives matter,” and “Buildings can be replaced but lives can’t.” Many wore masks, to protect themselves from the continued coronavirus pandemic. A few called out to address the crowd, while others circled the block chanting “He didn’t need to die,” and “I can’t breathe.”

All were there with one goal in mind: to demand action in response to the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a former Minneapolis police officer on Monday, and to protest against racism and police brutality.

“I just want to build up the courage to help these people,” said 12-year-old D’Angelo Barney, who was joined by his mother at the protest Saturday and decided to attend after seeing an image of Floyd.

“We kind of need peace right now,” he said. “It’s been eye-opening to see what’s happening around the world, like random people are dying because of white policemen for no reason. It just confuses me a lot.”

Caeona Krivolavy, of Ames, attended the protest to show support, she said.

“I think it feels a little bit different because America has been at home for quite a long time, and now they’re paying attention to something that they can’t look away from,” Krivolavy said.

Noting the growing crowd size, Krivolavy added, “I think people are waking up. I think people are coming to awareness. I’m hoping. I’m hoping.”

The protest, which began around 4 p.m., came five days after Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after an officer, Derek Chauvin, responded to reports from a nearby grocery store claiming Floyd made a purchase using a counterfeit $20. Chauvin pinned his knee on Floyd’s neck, while Floyd reportedly said, “I can’t breathe.”

Chauvin was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter, and the four officers involved, including Chauvin, were fired earlier in the week. Meanwhile, since Floyd’s death, protests against racism and police brutality have broken out across the nation.

On Saturday morning, members of the Ames Police Department caught wind of a protest that was going to occur that evening. In response, the police department prepared throughout the day, according to Ames Police Cmdr. Jason Tuttle.

“It’s just like any other big gathering, so we’ll have a plan in place for today,” Tuttle told the Tribune, hours before the planned protest began.

Area businesses also began to prepare for the influx of people who would be marching throughout the area. According to Tuttle, many business owners even reached out to the authorities for advice on how to better protect their businesses.

The concern, Tuttle said, stemmed from how similar protests throughout the country have turned violent, including an escalated event which occurred Friday in Des Moines.

Des Moines’s protest started similarly to the event in Ames, when roughly 1,000 people gathered outside of the Des Moines police station in peaceful protest. Like Ames, many wore masks and held up signs demanding police reform.

However, according to reports by the Des Moines Register, it quickly escalated.

Just before 8 p.m., “protesters threw bricks and rocks at police cars, prompting officers in riot gear to push against protesters,” the Des Moines Register said. “The scene escalated, with at least one officer spraying chemical irritants on the crowd.”

In response to that incident, Gov. Kim Reynolds said on Saturday, “The violence that happened last night in Des Moines undermines the message of change and hope that so many speak.

“A thousand people gathered to exercise their right to protest and to speak their mind. It was a powerful message. But the lawless actions of a few drowned out that message.”

In Saturday’s statement, Reynolds also asked Iowans to remain peaceful in order to “bring action and progress” when protesting in their communities.

“Respectful, peaceful dialogue is who we are as Iowans, and violence doesn’t address injustice or solve problems,” Reynolds said. “Change won’t happen overnight, but a respectful and peaceful dialogue will bring action and progress.”

In front of Ames’ City Hall, in the midst of crowds chanting, one patron called out in hope of the same thing.

“My hope is after we leave here, we don’t destroy the streets, but go to college and learn the laws,” the protester called out. “We don’t have to do what the world is doing. We don’t have to burn buildings. Educate yourselves, learn the laws, be the prosecutors, be the lawyers, be the doctors. Educate yourself and your children.”

Ames Tribune reporters David Mullen, Kiley Wellendorf and Kylee Mullen contributed to this article. Due to early print deadlines, more information about Saturday’s protest can be found online at