About 100 people, many of them young, gathered in Berkeley Springs State Park tonight under the watchful eyes of the Morgan County Sheriff and his deputies to protest the killing of George Floyd, the 46-year old black man who died May 25, 2020 after a white policeman pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes.
The peaceful protesters joined tens of thousands around the United States to call attention to police brutality.
Two veterans of such protests carried signs that read – “If You’re Not Outraged You’re Not Paying Attention” and “Age 83 and 76. Can’t Believe We’re Still Protesting the Same Sh*t.”
A younger protester wore a t-shirt that read – “Straight Outta Berkeley.”
The protest was organized by 20-year old Henry Gill-Newton, a graduate of Berkeley Springs High School, and friends.
“Right now in the nation, there is an outrage,” Gill-Newton said. “There’s a cry for help from black Americans to address the injustice that they face, especially during police encounters, and how unfair those encounters go, especially when it’s not happening at the same rate that it is to white Americans.”
The protesters stood on the sidewalk outside the park, waving signs, chanting and banging pots. They then proceeded to the gazebo, where Gill-Newton addressed them.
“Not only is it a time to call for reforms of our justice system,” Gill-Newton said. “It’s time for us to reform the way we think about ourselves. It is time to reevaluate our privilege. George Floyd did not have this privilege. Ahmaud Arbery did not have this privilege. Breonna Taylor did not have this privilege. Rodney King and Martin Luther King and many other black Americans that have died unjustly did not have this privilege that we all do here today. And in 2015, Black Americans despite being only 13% of America’s population, make up 20% of deaths by police. And in Minnesota, black Americans are four times as likely to be killed by police. And that is why they’re marching.”
“I have to ask – why are police killing at all? It’s the lack of formal comprehensive and thorough schooling before we give them a job, a job with particularly high risks for all involved in every encounter.”
“To the officers here tonight — I want to say thank you for keeping our community safe and letting us gather here to have this uncomfortable, but crucial conversation we’re having. Let’s work together more not only to solve the issue, but to lead the way for a better and safer nation for our minorities.”
“We have a long road ahead with many more uncomfortable conversations, but I think that that’s okay, one’s ability to learn speaks volumes louder than what they already know. Call your leaders on every level and demand the justice and reform we need. Our brothers and sisters are depending on it. One Love.”