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Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announces the opening of a second drive-thru COVID-19 community testing site at Our Lady of the Lake North Campus located at 5439 Airline Highway Wednesday April 22, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said "the brutal death" of a Minneapolis man who died at the hands of the police has "shaken the foundation of communities and hearts across America – including Baton Rouge."

A video of the encounter, which has sparked outrage and protests across the nation, shows an officer kneeling on the neck of 46-year-old George Floyd, who was black, for nearly eight minutes.

In Baton Rouge, a "peaceful prayer vigil" is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Elevate Church off Greenwell Springs Rd.

"We will no longer stand down and allow our precious human beings, black men and black boys to be unmercifully murdered," a posting for the event reads. "We stand up for human lives everywhere. 

The Baton Rouge Police Department posted a statement on Facebook on Friday from Chief Murphy Paul, who said "no one deserves to be treated in such an inhumane way."

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Joe Burrow also took to Twitter on Friday to urge his fans to open their ears and listen to the painful experiences that many black Americans face.

"The black community needs our help," LSU's former star quarterback wrote. "They have been unheard for far too long. Open your ears, listen, and speak. This isn’t politics. This is human rights."

The Minnesota video, posted by an onlooker, shows Floyd gasping for breath and telling officers he couldn't breathe. The footage quickly drew comparisons to the 2014 death of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold while pleading to a New York officer that he couldn't breathe.

Minneapolis leaders have fired four police officers who were at the scene, including the arresting officer, who was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday.

Floyd's death has touched off protests in Minneapolis and other cities, while also drawing criticism from some of the nation's top law enforcement officers.

Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said in statement Thursday that he "shares the nation's outrage," adding that moments like this "destroy the image of our profession and the trust we have worked so hard to build over the years in our parish." 

Baton Rouge saw violence in 2016 after police officers Blane Salamoni and officer Howie Lake II responded to an anonymous 911 caller who claimed a man had threatened him with a gun outside the convenience store. At the end of a 90-second encounter among the officers and Alton Sterling, Salamoni yelled "gun" and shot Sterling six times, killing him.

Lake retrieved a loaded .38-caliber revolver from Sterling's pocket just after the shooting and both officers told investigators they thought Sterling was reaching for the weapon.

Protests after the Baton Rouge shooting led to nearly 200 arrests. Just days after Sterling's funeral, a lone gunman from Kansas City, Missouri, ambushed officers at an Airline Highway business near police headquarters July 17, 2016, killing two city policemen and an East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputy and wounding three other officers.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said she's considering convening a group to share with Minneapolis' leaders how Baton Rouge navigated through its own difficulties. 

"If there's a community that knows trauma, this community knows it," Broome said. "Baton Rouge has certainly shown that while we have had our challenges, we are still resilient."

Staff writer Youssef Rddad contributed to this report. 


Email Blake Paterson at bpaterson@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter @blakepater