Black Lives Matter RI to hold protest in wake of George Floyd’s death
The death of a 46-year-old black man at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer has sparked outrage across the country, with some protests turning violent.
This week, a viral video showed the moments George Floyd was being held down, with an officer putting his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
Floyd told officers he couldn’t breathe, and he later died.
Four officers were fired from the department the next day
The officer who had his knee on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with 3rd-degree murder and manslaughter Friday.
Black Lives Matter Rhode Island will be holding a demonstration Saturday at noon at Burnside Park in Providence in response to the Minnesota man’s death.
The video has been seen by millions, including Mark Fisher, Senior Director with Black Lives Matter RI.
“I didn’t want to look at it. Eventually, I did because I needed to see for myself exactly his last minutes,” he said. “It was unimaginable. It was unconscionable. Just imagine that happening to someone that you loved.”
Fisher said Saturday’s protest will be peaceful and the theme is love. He said that’s the best way to get the message across.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of. Love is undefeated. Love is the only force that can defeat hate. Only life can drive out darkness,” Fisher said.
Fisher and Jim Vincent, President of the Providence NAACP, are angered about what happened on Memorial Day.
“I’m numb. I’m way beyond anger. I’m way beyond sad. I’m way beyond rage,” Fisher said.
“There’s still a lot of white supremacy in law enforcement. People that feel certain lives are not as valuable as other lives,” Vincent said, president of the Providence branch since 2010. “There’s still too many people getting through that don’t like black people. Don’t like people of color. They’re not there to protect and serve, they’re there to occupy and harass.”
As for the protests in Minneapolis, and in other parts of the country where there are looters and fires being set, Vincent said it’s the voice of those not being heard.
“We don’t want to blame the rioters we want to blame that police officer who murdered that 46-year-old man. He’s the problem. The people that watched it happen, they’re the problem. Not the looters,” Vincent said.
Both Vincent and Fisher agree that a conversation needs to happen for change to take place.
“If we don’t have this talk, if we don’t have this discussion, then we can’t have a bridge forward,” Fisher said.
“We believe everyone’s lives matter. But we’re not so sure people believe black lives matter. Not everybody I talk to can say black lives matter,” Vincent said. “It makes them uncomfortable.”
Providence Police said they will have extra officers on patrol during the demonstration.