Protesters converge on Lady A to seek change in wake of George Floyd's death
Monday, June 1, 2020
EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Protesters converged on Evans Towne Center Park in Columbia County on Monday afternoon to protest the death of George Floyd.
Monday's protest was another among a handful of protests across the CSRA since the weekend.
Protesters went to the Lady Antebellum Pavilion to speak their minds on Floyd's death and deliver a message of peace and unity as other protests across the nation erupt in violence and fire.
"This is our voice. Like George Floyd couldn't breathe, we're giving a voice to all the back oppression that we've endured for so long. We're tired, we're fed up and we're here to march," one protester said.
"It's beautiful," another protester said. "It seems like all nationalities are coming together, so that's what it's all about."
It was peaceful, but protesters said make no mistake, they feel hurt and rage.
At one point, a protester called on a show of support from non-black people in the crowds. At that time, all the white protesters began to kneel with their fists in the air.
Protesters laid in the street, starting with a moment silence, a rallying cry, then actual tears from people who never even met but called one another family while they lay on the concrete.
There was also the story of the mom who came with her four sons, but left with what felt like a community of sons. Or the neighbor who went down on the pavement alone, but came up with many neighbors alongside her.
And the driver who was stuck in traffic but later chose to steer compassion, leaving from behind the wheel, in the middle of the road to kneel with protesters.
Then there were the walkers with tiny children teaching lessons on race in real-time like this one dad.
“I hope that people stand out when something is going on and make a difference before something like this bad happens," the dad said.
Floyd's death in Minneapolis by the hands of a police officer has sparked other protests -- some peaceful and some violent.
In nearby Columbia, protests over the weekend ignited a tinderbox of simmering rage that caused police officials to call in the SWAT teams to control the crowds and city leaders to enforce a curfew.
In Atlanta, protesters caused property damage to the downtown area, leading to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to hold a news conference in an effort to calm the protests.
But in the CSRA, protests from downtown Augusta to Aiken have been peaceful.
That calm extended to the protest at Lady A, where many broke out into a rendition of "Lean On Me."
Columbia County Chairman Doug Duncan also spoke.
"I admitted to the crowd that I haven't experienced what they experience, and so I'm in no position to tell them what to do, in no position to judge, but I do want to start a dialogue with those who are interested to start a process of healing but also results," Duncan said.
As the day changes and the protests move, people hope the message remains -- and the peace, too.
"Right here we're giving voices to our generation, future generations, past generations. Change needs to happen and it will happen today," a protester said.