Protests stay peaceful in Winston-Salem

Protests stay peaceful in Winston-Salem
June 03
15:37 2020

In response to the modern-day lynching of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department, for the past six days people across the country have been participating in protests calling for justice and reform. 

On Monday, May 26, Floyd, a black man, allegedly tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill. Once police were on the scene, Floyd was asked to exit his vehicle when officers say he started to resist. Video footage recorded by several people on the scene shows Floyd in handcuffs face down on the ground with Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, literally taking a knee on the back of his neck. In the video footage, Floyd can he heard pleading with Chauvin to not kill him and telling him “I can’t breathe.”

Civilians on the video footage can be heard begging with Chauvin to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck. But for nine minutes, Derek Chauvin, the officer whose primary responsibilities are to protect and serve, kept his knee on Floyd’s neck, while two other officers helped hold Floyd down and another watched while his colleagues killed a man over $20.

The next day all three officers were fired and three days later, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. At this time, the other three officers have not been charged.

After the video footage was made public, peaceful protests and riots broke out across the country. Here in Winston-Salem, several protests were held and they all stayed peaceful.

The first protest was held on Saturday, May 30, at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and U.S. Hwy 311/New Walkertown Road. For more than three hours protestors held signs and yelled various chants as cars zoomed by, many sounding their horns to show their support.

When discussing the murder of George Floyd and her decision to attend the protest, Winston-Salem native Lauren Burch said she was standing for the black men and women across the country that have been killed by law enforcement. “Right now there is no justice; it seems like it’s just for the white people,” Burch said.

“Those are murderers who call themselves an officer of the law who are supposed to protect and serve. It seems like we’re taking it back to 400 years ago when our forefathers had to endure lynching.”

Most of the participants in protest on Saturday returned on Sunday to continue their clarion call for reform. This time members of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity and other clergy joined nearly 50 people from all walks of life for a rally and march. 

Led by officers with the Winston-Salem Police Department, the group of demonstrators began on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and headed toward the Arts District downtown. The group then made its way up Cherry Street before turning left on Fifth Street and taking the final stretch down MLK Jr. Drive.

Later that same day, 16-year-old Olivia Moore organized a march that began at Bailey Park. Participants marched from Bailey Park on Patterson Avenue to the Forsyth County Detention Center located on North Church Street, where demonstrators laid in the street face down for nine minutes, the same amount of time the officer kept his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck.

Protests from the weekend continued through the start of the workweek. On Monday, June 1, demonstrators gathered at Corpening Plaza to call for peace and unity. On Tuesday the demonstration organized by Joshua Black drew a crowd well over 1,000. The demonstration started in on W. 6th Street in the parking lot across from Downtown Bodega.

Although the protest wasn’t scheduled to begin until 5 p.m., the parking lot started to fill hours before that. By the time the demonstration was scheduled to start, 6th Street was flooded with people. After walking through downtown, the group returned to W. 6th Street where Black and other organizers addressed the crowd. Other speakers during the demonstration were Calvin Pena, Frankie Gist and Molly Grace. 

N.C. Rep. Derwin Montgomery, who is a co-owner of The Chronicle, and Rev. Nathan Scovens, pastor of Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, spoke during the demonstration as well.

The peaceful protest organized by Black ignited other demonstrators to march well into the night. After marching through the streets of downtown for a few hours, hundreds took their protest to U.S. 52. For several hours officers shut down the highway before the group made its way back to 6th Street. 

Other demonstrations are scheduled for today at 6 p.m. at the Benton Convention Center and on Saturday, June 6, at noon near Winston-Salem City Hall. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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