Fort Payne protest remains peaceful in aftermath of George Floyd death

Northeast Alabama

FORT PAYNE, Ala.- A protest remained peaceful in Fort Payne over the weekend.

It stems from the death of a Minnesota black man on May 25. George Floyd died while being arrested when a police officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes, despite Floyd saying he could not breathe and becoming unresponsive.

Around 50 people took to the streets in Fort Payne, holding signs and chanting “No justice, no peace”, “I can’t breathe”, and “Say his name: George Floyd.”

Protest organizer Casey Bevel told WHNT News 19 the protest was meant to fight against racism across the country, and in rural Alabama.

“I’ve been called a n-word lover several times in my life,” said Bevel. “It’s nothing compared to what black people encounter or even the Hispanic community encounters.

Bevel got the idea to hold a protest after seeing a post on social media about Floyd calling out to his mother while being knelt on.

“This man, right before he died called out to his momma who died two years earlier. I didn’t see George Floyd’s face anymore, I saw my baby’s face calling out for me. And as a mom, as the mom of a black boy, that hurt.”

The fight is personal for Bevel who has a 3-year-old biracial son.

“I think our black community is under attack and the longer that we ignore that, the worse it is,” explained Bevel.

She is scared of what might happen because of how intimidating he may grow up to be.

“His dad is a very tall man, 6’7, so there’s a good chance that my son is going to be a very tall man. He’ll be tall and there’s a good chance that he’s probably not going to be skinny. He will be viewed as a threat and that’s not just frightening but it’s sad,” said Bevel.

Bevel and other protesters were threatened for their demonstration.

“We had a couple people say, ‘come to the mountain, I’ve got some bullets for you,’” explained Bevel.

She added that someone else threatened her by saying they wanted to run her over with their Dodge Ram truck.

However, at the end of the day, Bevel told WHNT News 19 that it was a beautiful protest full of support.

“When we all got out there together, for the entire time I had chills on my arms because it was a beautiful thing to see us all come together and say that we are united,” said Bevel with a smile on her face.

She said her goal of ending racism likely won’t be accomplished in her lifetime, but she hopes it will during her young son’s.

“There were a lot of eyes opened but it’s a fight that we’ll be fighting for a very long time. It’s good versus evil, I think, and you can’t stay silent. Silence is letting people think that you’re comfortable with it and the more that we let people who are racist think that that’s ok, the more they’re going to do it, so let’s just shut it down,” explained Bevel.

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