Around 75 people marched through downtown Jefferson on Tuesday, June 2, protesting the death of George Floyd and other persons of color who have been wrongfully killed and mistreated.
The peaceful protestors gathered at Hughey Park on Gordon Street around 6:30 p.m., marching through downtown to Tabos before returning to the park.
Protestors raised signs throughout the march reading, “No justice, no peace,” “I can’t breathe,” and “All lives matter.” Chants echoed throughout the march, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “United we stand, divided we fall.”
Participants took a knee when they reached Tabo’s in memory of Floyd, who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minn. Floyd’s death has created a movement of protests across the country. A similar peaceful protest was held earlier in the day in Braselton. Another is planned in Commerce on Thursday, June 4, at 5:30 p.m. at 45 Ridgeway St.
It was clear the protestors in Jefferson wanted to share the frustration over the continued mistreatment of black men and women.
“We lift up the name of those whose lives…have been wrongfully taken at the hands of people who had no business taking the lives of others,” said Pastor Sylvania Watkins, Greater Breakthrough Ministries.
But the group also shared another message: Unity.
“We’re in this together,” said Pastor Walter Humphrey of Beyond Words Baptist Church. “And one thing we cannot forget is that as long as we stay together, nothing can divide us.”
“We’ve got one voice — no matter white, black, Latino — one voice,” said Pastor Kenneth Sims, Poplar Springs Baptist Church. “Let’s let our voice be heard.”
Protestors walked alongside local faith and community leaders and law enforcement throughout the march. The Jefferson Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Arcade Police Department all had a presence at the event.
Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum told the crowd her heart was “saddened” by recent events and said she won’t tolerate mistreatment in Jackson County.
“We’re better than that,” she said.
Both Mangum and Jefferson Police Department Chief Joe Wirthman stressed that their officers were there to protect the protestors and ensure they could safely march.
Many local pastors who spoke thanked and prayed for local law enforcement.
“That sends a strong message to this community that you’re going to walk with us and protect us,” said Sims.
There was also another common thread throughout: Hope for the younger generation. Many young children marched alongside their families, holding signs and chanting.
“It’s just wonderful to see these little children,” said Pastor Fred Wilson. “They may not know what’s going on, but they can see that there’s a future coming. They’re going to head the future. They’re going to be a part of it.”
“They can be the lawyers…” said Watkins. “They can be the police. They can be the chiefs. They can be the mayor. They can be the judges…. That will make a difference in the next generation.”