“Every time a black body is harmed, every time one of us witnesses, over and over again, one of our family injured in any way, we feel it inside of ourselves, don’t we?”
Thousands of protesters peacefully rallied at Burnside Park in Providence on Saturday to join protests nationwide calling for justice in the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes as Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on the pavement. Chauvin and three other officers involved in the arrest were fired the next day, and Chauvin faces third degree murder charges.
Floyd joins a long list of unarmed black persons murdered by police nationwide.
Many people spoke at the event, before marching from Burnside Park to the Rhode Island State House. Most in the crowd wore masks, and some social distancing was practiced, but concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic felt distant to a crowd fighting a pandemic of black lives lost to police violence.
“Every time a black body is harmed, every time one of us witnesses, over and over again, one of our family injured in any way, we feel it inside of ourselves, don’t we?” asked speaker Michael Araujo. “This is a thing that is real, this kinship that we share as Black people throughout this entire country. Every single one of us is familiar with the feeling of pain. When we witness somebody pulled over, we wonder if they’re going to be all right. Am I right?
“Do we stop, or be afraid? Do we move, or move on?”
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“America, you’ve got blood on your hands.,” said Gary Dantzler, one of the organizers.
“If I tell you I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” said Iasha Hall. “But I’m taking my breath back, because first and foremost, as a black woman, as a woman of God, I take power and authority and dominion over Providence.”
“We are here talking about empowerment,” said Lisa Ranglin, founder of the Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA). “Strong black businesses equals strong black community…”
The march to the State House begins:
At the State House:
Here are the rest of the speakers at Burnside Park, and Gary Dantzler at the State House: