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Downtown Charleston quiets after 1 week of protests over George Floyd's death

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Demonstrators gather in Marion Square in Charleston on Friday, June 5, 2020 as protests continue in reaction to the killing of Minnesota man George Floyd by police. Another demonstration was planned in the Holy City at 3 p.m. Saturday but didn't take place. Lauren Petracca/Staff

The streets of downtown Charleston were quiet Saturday afternoon, the first day no organized protests were held on the peninsula after a week of demonstrations to honor George Floyd and other African Americans killed by police.

Charleston city and police officials expected a rally to take place at Colonial Lake around 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon. No such event took place. As of 4 p.m., the park was empty, save for the occasional jogger or dog-walker.

The peninsula saw bursts of heavy rain around the time the event was thought to take place, potentially deterring some from organizing. 

It's unknown who or what organization planned the event rumored to take place Saturday downtown. 

Black Lives Matter Charleston, a group that helped organized some of the week's previous rallies to protest police brutality, posted on its social media page Saturday to announce due to "unforeseen events" the group will not be participating in any marches or events this weekend, adding that their page is not affiliated with any demonstrations planned until Monday.

A representative of the group declined to comment further on the "unforeseen events" Saturday but said the group is just "taking some time to strategize." 

After a series of peaceful demonstrations throughout the city, Mayor John Tecklenburg said no curfew would be necessary if gatherings Saturday remained calm. Violence broke out as the sun set at the first protest May 30 but hasn't been a problem since.

Instead, organizers have chanted and marched with homemade signs between Marion Square, Colonial Lake, Brittlebank Park, Waterfront Park and The Battery, joining protesters across the country in calling for accountability for police who use unnecessary violence against marginalized groups.

Last weekend's riot and looting followed a peaceful demonstration to protest the death of Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis on May 25. Suspected of passing a counterfeit bill, Floyd died after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Since then, Charleston demonstrations have highlighted the Lowcountry's legacy of slavery, with many protesters demanding the removal of Confederate monuments and remembering the legacies of Walter Scott and the nine worshippers massacred at Emanuel AME Church in 2015.

A peaceful rally was held Saturday morning in North Charleston, as faith leaders and activists marched to city hall. The event was called by the family of Walter Scott, who was shot to death by police in the city five years ago. 

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that protesters had gathered at Colonial Lake Saturday afternoon. 

Reach Sara Coello at 843-937-5705 and follow her on Twitter @smlcoello.

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