Hundreds of Islanders gathered at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven Monday afternoon in a show of solidarity with demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice that have swept the nation this past week.

At 5:30 p.m. crowd went down on one knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds. — Tim Johnson

Except for an incident leading to two arrests that occurred near the end of the event, the demonstration remained largely peaceful, as Vineyarders, fraught with emotion, came together over an issue that has left the country deeply divided.

More than 400 people filled every one of the intersection’s five corners and all the sidewalks in between, with signs spurring broader calls for activism. At five p.m., all the demonstrators took a knee, remaining silent for exactly eight minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time that a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on George Floyd’s head, leading to his death.

“It feels like a long time — a long time to realize what you’re doing,” said demonstrator Sierra Johnson.

The demonstration followed a smaller peaceful rally held Sunday at Waban Park in Oak Bluffs. The Monday protest was organized by 15-year-old regional high school student Graysen Kirk, who said she used social media to spread the word with the help of her former teacher and family friend, Mathea Morais. Protests across the country inspired her effort to organize a demonstration on the Island, Ms. Kirk said.

Protestors filled every corner of the downtown intersection. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“Hearing the news, I felt paralyzed,” Ms. Kirk said. “Living in such a small community, I felt like I didn’t have a voice. So I wanted to make a platform for other people too.”

Others showed up in droves Monday, many carrying signs in support of the Black Lives Matter movement or protesting police violence. Chants of “I can’t breathe” and George Floyd were met with a symphony of horns from drivers, many of whom had signs themselves.

“It’s insane,” Ms. Kirk said. “When I first organized this, I thought it was just going to be me and my sign.”

White demonstrators were asked to carry signs describing the kind of action they planned to take in support of racial justice. Ms. Kirk’s sign said she wanted to become a civil rights attorney; her 11-year-old sister Estella’s sign said she pledged to use her voice and privilege to get equal rights and justice for all. Many said they would listen to their black neighbors and friends. Others said they would donate.

Ms. Morais said she was inspired by Graysen and the turnout.

“It makes me so unbelievably proud,” she said. “I’m not surprised, because she’s that kid. But I am so proud of her. There was nothing that she wasn’t about to do.”

The demonstration was deeply personal for at least one protester. Malik Johnson, who works at Stop & Shop and the airport, came to the Island when he was 16 after growing up in New Britain, Conn. A few years ago, he had a friend who died from police violence.

Vineyarders, fraught with emotion, came together over an issue that has left the country deeply divided. — Tim DeWitt

“This all hits home, because I’ve seen people that I know be killed by the police,” Mr. Johnson said.

Although he loves living on the Vineyard, Mr. Johnson it was hard being away from Connecticut while protests spread across the country, including in his home town. That didn’t make the event on the Vineyard any less important for him, however.

“I appreciate it,” Mr. Johnson said. “If we don’t do this, people won’t open their eyes.”

As the protest came to a close, an altercation occurred on Lagoon Pond Road involving a passerby in a truck and one of the protesters.

According to Tisbury police chief Mark Saloio, Eric Woods, 67, of Tisbury, was counter-protesting from his vehicle and had a verbal exchange with a protester that escalated. Witnesses said Mr. Woods got out of his truck and threw a punch at a protester, according to police. As police arrived on scene, another individual, different from the protester who allegedly was punched, threw a rock through the man’s truck window, Chief Saloio said.

Many carried signs in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. — Tim Johnson

Both individuals were arrested at the scene and charged with disorderly conduct, Chief Saloio said. The man who threw the rock was also charged with malicious destruction of property. Mr. Woods was also charged with assault and battery.

Tisbury police Sgt. Max Sherman told the Gazette by phone that the individual who threw the rock became uncooperative after being arrested, and had not yet been identified.

The protest ended peacefully around 6:30 p.m., after the arrests.

“Before that, everything was fine. And after that, everything was fine,” Chief Saloio said. “Ninety-nine point nine per cent of the people that were there were doing the right thing, and doing it the right way.”

An hour earlier Ms. Kirk had led the crowd in a period of silence to honor George Floyd. When she got up from her knee, she shared her message with the Island.

“Eight minutes and 46 seconds,” she said. “That’s all it took. This has to stop.”

More pictures.

Home page picture by Albert O. Fischer.