MASSENA — A cold rain couldn’t keep about 50 people from joining with other communities in staging a peaceful “Protest to Support Justice for George Floyd” on Monday.
The event was publicized by flyers around town and a listing under Facebook events. Organizer Adison Champion had advised participants that the protest would be peaceful to show support for George Floyd and members of the black community, and if they couldn’t abide by that, they weren’t welcome.
The Massena Police Department said in a social media posting that they were aware of the protest.
“The Massena Police Department is aware of a peaceful protest that will occur on June 1st from 12 p.m. until 12 a.m. The Chief of Police has been in contact with the organizer and he has been assured this will remain a peaceful protest,” they wrote. “The Massena Police Department does not support police brutality or condone racism. We support PEACEFUL protests.”
And it was, as the group protested in remembrance of Mr. Floyd, who was black. He died after Derek Chauvin, a white and now former Minneapolis police officer, knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, with two minutes and 53 seconds occurring after Mr. Floyd was unresponsive, according to a criminal complaint.
The group initially met at the intersection of Parker Avenue and East Orvis Street, where they held up signs and vocalized their feelings as vehicles honked their horns while driving by. Signs held by the protesters shared their feelings — Enough Is Enough; Black Lives Matter; Human Dignity Not White Supremacy; Racism is the Refuge for the Ignorant; Silence Fuels Injustice — Black Lives Matter.
As they held up their signs, the protesters chanted phrases like “Let’s get justice for George Floyd,” “Stop Oppression,” “I can’t breathe,” “What’s his name,” Stop police brutality,” Black lives matter,” “All lives matter” and “Honk for George Floyd.” One protester wore a face mask that read, “I can’t breathe.”
Paige Davis said she was on hand to support the fact that the Black Lives Matter movement was important.
“Just knowing basic rights are not earned, but given,” she said.
“I have a lot of students who mean a lot to me. My sorority sisters experienced what I didn’t,” said Rebecca Jewell, who teaches at local colleges.
“I don’t want to die in a world like this. I want to do better. That’s why I’m showing up. Every person has to take a part. This is my duty and obligation to answer the call,” she said.
The group also walked the nearly one mile down East Orvis Street to the Massena Town Hall, where they continued their protest.