Demonstrators gather in downtown Miami for Black Lives Matter protest

MIAMI (WSVN) - A large group of people gathered in downtown Miami for a Black Lives Matter protest demanding racial equality in the U.S.

Dozens of protesters could be seen in front of the Torch of Friendship, at 301 Biscayne Blvd., holding signs and chanting, Friday afternoon.

City of Miami Police sent out a memo saying that non-essential businesses should have closed around 2 p.m. because they expected a large crowd of protesters. Police also said all downtown Miami courthouses were told to evacuate at around 1 p.m.

Demonstrators have handed out fliers to attendees detailing what they need to do to find medical attention, and what they should do if they end up being hit with tear gas.

The protest stems from the death of George Floyd, who died while in police custody in Minneapolis, on May 25. Four former Minneapolis Police officers have been charged in his death.

After gathering at the Torch of Friendship, the group started marching through parts of downtown.

They first headed to the Federal Detention Center, where they talked for about 10 to 15 minutes and acknowledged the inmates inside of the facility.

The demonstrators could be seen walking along Northwest Fifth Street and turning left onto Northwest First Avenue at around 5 p.m., and they sat down on the front steps of the Miami-Dade County Courthouse, at 73 W. Flagler St., at around 5:30 p.m.

Protesters have entered the city’s Brickell neighborhood with several cars following behind with supplies. The protesters would end up in front of Brickell City Centre, but the mall had closed around an hour early, Friday.

Aerial footage showed the large group along Southwest First Avenue off Southwest Seventh Street.

The protesters then marched onto an I-95 off ramp off South Miami Avenue, and a line of law enforcement members met them before they ended up on the highway.

At first, some demonstrators riding bicycles tried to get onto the interstate but were unsuccessful. A wave of protesters on foot soon followed, which resulted in a standoff with law enforcement.

Within minutes of the beginning of the standoff, reinforcements arrived in SWAT vehicles to backup the state troopers on the interstate. Once the signal was sent to move forward, protesters began retreating down the ramp towards South Miami Avenue.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers shut down Interstate 95 southbound between SR-112 and U.S. 1 and northbound between U.S. 1 and SR-836 as a precaution. All of the interstate’s lanes have reopened as of 9:30 p.m.

Once off the ramp, the protesters gathered again off South Miami Avenue for about 10 minutes before heading north.

Westbound Interstate 395 from Miami Beach was also shut down but has since reopened.

The demonstration lasted four and a half hours.

The group plans to congregate again at the Torch of Friendship at 3 p.m., Saturday.

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