Street closed in Lawrence as group gathers, protesting graphic banner of George Floyd

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Part of Massachusetts Street in Lawrence is closed Monday night as protesters continue to demonstrate. 

A racist banner found in South Park prompted the protest that started Saturday night. 

City crews drilled street closure signs in around 7 p.m. Monday. Officials said Massachusetts Street surrounding South Park will remain closed through at least Wednesday so protesters can safely demonstrate. 

The group has set up tents and sofas in the street. They were grilling and music was playing all Monday night. Some protesters said they plan to spend the night. 

They told FOX4 this all started because someone put a banner up in the park that showed George Floyd with a noose around his neck and the word “obey.” 

Apparently it was guerilla artwork designed by a local artist who believes the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement is “behaving like an authoritarian, anti-American lynch mob.” 

The anonymous artist wrote in an email shared with FOX4 that they made the piece to start honest dialogue. 

The banner was removed Saturday, but protesters said they want a full investigation. They see it as a hate crime. 

“I thought it was terrible. I mean, why would someone do that?” a protester named Baxter told FOX4. 

“It just doesn’t make sense, doesn’t make sense that somebody could have that much hate in their heart just because of the skin color I have,” protester Traci Bunkers said. 

Protesters also want a man named Rontarus Washington released from jail. He’s been there since 2015 after his murder trial ended with a hung jury, according to the Lawrence World-Journal. 

Lawrence police arrested at least six people in the area Monday. The agency is also investigating two incidents involving cars driving toward the group. 

In the meantime, protesters said they’re not going anywhere. 

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