Peaceful Protest held at City Hall Saturday

Published 11:22 am Sunday, May 31, 2020

Oxford residents gathered at City Hall for a peaceful protest on Saturday evening.

The protest comes as a response to the death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis, Minn. For Tracey Williams, the organizer of the protest, things could not have gone better.

“This is my first time holding a protest rally,” Williams said. “I was really nervous at first, due to the fact that this is the South. So I want to thank each and every last one of you for coming out. This is what unity and solidarity looks like.”

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Emotions ran high as people were invited up to talk about the injustices that they have experienced. Onlookers holding up signs that said “No Justice, No Peace,” “I Can’t Breathe” and “Black Lives Matter,” cheering as each speaker came up.

One participant, Dr. Alexandria White, pointed out that regardless of one’s status or degree they should still speak up.

“Dr. Martin Luther King was killed in a three-piece suit,” White said. “We cannot bow down to racism, injustice and exploitation. Your degree and status us not going to save you. You have got to take a stand.”

Some speakers, including Barbara Wortham, encouraged people to go out and bring the same energy when they go vote in the November elections.

“You should be emotional if you saw that video,” Wortham said. “If you saw that man pleading for his life. If you saw him calling for his dead mother. She died two years ago. I guess she was calling him. Baby, come home to me. If you did not get emotional seeing that, you are not alive.”

George Floyd died while in the custody of four Minneapolis police officers. He was arrested at Cup Foods convenience store for trying to pay for groceries using a counterfeit $20 bill.

While laying face down on the ground, one of the arresting officers, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck. Floyd can be heard in video footage of the incident telling the police officer he couldn’t breathe and asking Chauvin to take his knee off his neck. Floyd would eventually become unresponsive and die.

“Now is the worst of the embarrassment,” Ann Phillippi said. “We as white people have got to understand that we hold the reins of power. Until we try to make it be a relinquishing of that power nothing is going to change.”

The protest ended with a march around the courthouse and Williams not only thanking the crowd for coming out but also the Oxford Police Department.

“I made a phone call yesterday morning,” Williams said. “I did not have a problem at all. So thank you, Oxford Police Department, for allowing me to put together my very first rally.”