LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — About 100 people gathered in front of the Lynchburg Community Market Saturday morning and marched to the police station to protest the death of George Floyd.
“See us,” said Black Lives Matter protest organizer Mirgina Sheffey. “Hear us. Give us a voice.”
“It’s all the recent black deaths,” she said, explaining why she organized the protest, “but on top of that, it’s just being in my skin every day. That’s like the greatest motivation.”
She reflected on a video that shows George Floyd being killed in Minneapolis when a police officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck.
“Everybody waits until the videos come out, so that we can seek justice for the people, but black people live these lives every day,” she said. “It’s about time that people start appreciating that, like value life.”
Lynchburg Resident Tameka Brown attended the protest and said it made her feel empowered.
“My heart’s been heavy,” she said. “Like, I grieve for the family of George Floyd and all the other victims, that this continues to keep happening. There’s no justice in what’s happening, and that we need to change it, and in order to do that, we have to keep speaking out.”
Brown spoke in front of the crowd, urging unity.
“All of us, no matter if you’re black, you’re white, you’re gay, you’re straight, it doesn’t matter. We’re all in this together.”
Tabitha Cawthorne, a Lynchburg resident, also spoke, saying, “I just think it’s so important for white people. This is not your job as a brown or Asian person to have to do this alone, because you didn’t ask for this.”
Sheffey spoke about police brutality, saying, “It’s not all police, but the bad ones. The police that racism is ingrained in them.”
As the protest was beginning, Lieutenant Luke Bryan approached Sheffey, giving her a statement from Police Chief Ryan Zuidema, which Zuidema released yesterday.
Sheffey says Bryan told her to reach out to him if the protest “goes in a direction that you don’t feel comfortable with” and she needed help.
“He was friendly,” said Sheffey, “and he let us know that he’s on our side. You know, he’s a human being, too. Take off the badge, take off the uniform. He’s a human being, and he validated us today. So, yeah. I appreciate him.”
Other protests in Virginia have sprung up overnight, including violence that broke out in Downtown Richmond and protesters in Hampton that shut down Interstate 64.
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