HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Hundreds of people gathered at St. John AME Church, Tuesday and marched through downtown to honor the life of George Floyd. His death last year prompted marches and protests across the country. Including here in North Alabama.
“Every last one of us, especially the least of us are valuable. If they ever need us, we should be available. Because I know that my God, my God, he is what? Able!” said spoken word artist, Joneia Brown.
Activists and religious leaders echoed their hopes and dreams to the crowd, wanting stronger relationships with police and the elimination of racism from the equation. The organizer, Angela Whitlock rallied several organizations together to make the event possible. Whitlock started planning after a witness at the Chauvin trial couldn’t remember some of what they saw that infamous day.
“I think this is something that we should never forget. Some things about it are traumatic but we definitely need to remember the implications from his murder,” said Whitlock.
Between speakers and music, there were moments of complete silence. One of which was the march down Church Street itself.
Huntsville Police assisted with traffic as the demonstrators made their way to Big Spring Park. The mostly silent march lasted 9 minutes and 29 seconds to replicate the time that passed as Floyd took his final breaths.
“I can’t breathe,” the crowd echoed more than 20 times between periods of silence, to again show what Floyd said and did before his passing.
A few speakers expressed fatigue because events similar to Floyd keep happening.
“Assuming this case was a slam dunk, is an assumption by those who have not watched trial after trial end without justice over and over again. Hashtag after hashtag,” said Jessie Lackey.
“My lord and savior Jesus Christ was murdered by the justice system of his day. I can’t look away and do nothing while our system today is still murdering people,” said Dr. Chris Brown.
Several speakers urged people in attendance to consider doing more than just rallying or protesting. They asked that people consider upping their civic engagement by going to city or county commission meetings. A few leaders expressed some excitement as some “baby step” changes have happened within local policing polices and practices.