It was a protest rally for awareness, unity and solidarity. That mission was accomplished on June 5 in downtown Fayetteville. Peaceful throughout by design, the protest began at the county complex and moved to the old courthouse where the horns of endless vehicles honked in support of the group of more than 200.
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Like others in Fayette County and around the country, the Friday, June 5 protest came as a result of the death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis on May 25 after Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee pressed on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes on the street during an arrest.
Organized by Fayetteville residents Latisha Ajila and Diana Galloway, more than 200 people on Friday gathered around the fountain at the county complex to hear brief remarks before making their way to the old courthouse a block away.
Ajila said the purpose of the rally was to bring awareness, solidarity and unity, and to stand up for justice.
She read a poem that began with the words, “When you look at me, what do you see…”
The point brought by Ajila was made, and the large group heard her words.
Smiling and animated, local pastor Real Talk Kim also shared words for the crowd assembled around the fountain.
“One person can change the world, and that is you,” she said.
Also giving brief remarks was city Planning and Zoning Commissioner Toby Spencer, who said the county has been divided for too long.
“This is the day we say enough is enough. I hope that this is this day,” he said.
Spencer represented a cross-section of city staff and officials at the protest rally.
One of those was Police Chief Scott Gray, who agreed with people saying they are tired of the deaths.
“I’m tired of it, too, ” said Gray. “This police department has said it is wrong, and that’s not who we are.”
The crowd responded to each of the speakers with rounds of applause.
That applause continued with the words of co-organizer Diana Galloway, who told the protesters she has been a resident of Fayetteville for 25 years.
Making the heartfelt point that was clear in her voice, Galloway said, “I have neighbors of different colors, and we love each other.”
In all, the speakers and the crowd were honest and respectful. And their point was made.
Gray soon led the group across the intersection of Glynn Street and Stonewall Avenue to the old courthouse while officers stopped traffic at the busy intersection. The protesters first lined the block in front of the old courthouse, with others later moving across the street.
They held signs and chanted, “No justice, no peace” and “I can’t breathe,” a reference to George Floyd.
For those unfamiliar with downtown Fayetteville, the intersection is where two state highways cross. And on a Friday afternoon, there is a wealth of traffic flowing through the city.
Throughout their stay on the street, motorists in their vehicles by the hundreds honked their horns in support of the efforts and the message of the protesters on the sidewalk. Providing a mobile venue of solidarity, the melding together made the entire scene something fascinating to watch.
Black and white, they came together for a reason, and did so respectfully. And the mission was accomplished.