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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – What happened to George Floyd is not the beginning of many people’s frustrations. Activists say it was merely the catalyst to demand change. Huntsville’s black leaders are chiming in on what they think about the protests.

David Person and John Meredith have deep ties in Huntsville’s black community, and say they share the same frustrations that have inspired the nation to protest — and in some cases incite violence.

“When you express your grievances and they’re completely ignored, after a while, you start acting out,” said contributing columnist and business leader John Meredith. “That’s what’s happening with the rioting for at least those who started out honestly protesting the treatment that George Floyd got.”

Community activist and leader David Person said it stems from decades of institutional racism, like Jim Crow laws.

“We have an indisputable history of racism in he south,” said Community Diversity and Inclusion Advocate Leader David Person.

And what we’re witnessing on the streets in places like Decatur Sunday is a community finally unwilling to accept racial injustice.

“Understand that ultimately all of us are infected, affected and infected, by this virus of racism.”

Both leaders said we need to focus on the fact that another unarmed black man has died at the hands of police, and the message demonstrators are bringing to the forefront.

“White America seems far more upset that their property is being damaged than people of color being killed,” said Meredith. “Until we close the gap on that , where do we even begin to talk?”

Leaders said protesting still matters. Being empathetic still matters. And remembering what we were taught year’s ago still matters.

“If we can implement love, even in dealing with the most horrific, evil, malicious situations, we can perhaps one day see one person or another group of people change,” said Person.

That’s the force of love.