CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The chants of “Black Lives Matter,” “No Justice, No Peace,” “George Floyd,” and “I Can’t Breathe” echoed through downtown Charleston on Sunday.
Hundreds of people gathered for peaceful protesting of social injustice, police brutality and the death of George Floyd outside of Charleston City Hall and the Charleston Police Department.
Floyd’s death, under police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has been protested all over the country in recent days. The now former police officer who had his knee on Floyd’s neck has been charged with murder.
“We are better than this. The man called for his mother,” an African-American mother said on the steps of City Hall of Floyd’s death.
“He wasn’t an alien, he was a person. How do you think his mother feels? How do you think his family feels?”
She spoke those words alongside dozens of African-American women and was one of many that took to speak and express emotions.
An African-American father from Dunbar spoke on behalf of his family and how he is scared to go out and do normal activities.
“I can’t go out here and do things I normally want to do. I’m afraid that if I say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing that I will have police on me. You just never know what is going to happen,” he said.
“I am scared for my children, I am scared for my brothers, I am scared for my sisters, my nieces and nephews. I am shaking right now.”
The crowd of a few hundred consisted of all ethnicities, gender and ages.
A woman identified as Cassidy, a white female from Boone County told MetroNews white people have privilege and need to speak up on injustices towards the African-American community.
“I’m a white person. I have privilege and it would be selfish of me to not speak on this because I can. If I can, why shouldn’t I,” she said.
A white female protestor with her agreed.
“I just think that anybody with privilege in times of oppression, not to do something about it is just a gross, selfish misuse of their privilege,” she said to MetroNews.
“Solidarity is everything. If enough people try to raise their voice, eventually somebody is going to be heard.”
Charleston’s protest joins the list of other peaceful protests in the Mountain State including two protests in Huntington, one at Ritter Park and a second one at Pullman Square, Morgantown on WVU’s downtown campus, through the streets of Fairmont, Wheeling, Williamson, Martinsburg, Clarksburg, and Bluefield.
The protest at City Hall came hours after violent protests broke out in dozens of cities across the country Saturday night.
The group in Charleston marched through the streets of downtown with no issues, along Virginia, Court, Laidley, and Lee streets.
Sights and signs from the protest in Charleston, WV ?: pic.twitter.com/KuYYlZcMI7
— Jake Flatley (@JakeFlatley) May 31, 2020
Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt released a statement on Sunday evening on the protests: “The unfortunate death of George Floyd was due to an officer’s poor tactics and decision making. The officer was obviously in the wrong and I pray that none of our officers ever think the actions in this scenario were acceptable.
“I have made it clear to my officers that we, the Charleston Police Department, are not that guy. I urge each officer to show our community that our primary goals are to protect life and property.”
Amy Shuler Goodwin, the Mayor of Charleston, released a statement on Sunday as well: “I appreciate those who made their voices heard today and kept today’s protest outside of City Hall peaceful. We, as a nation, need to do more listening, especially in these uncertain times. I look forward to keeping the lines of communication open and helping to navigate our City through this unspeakable tragedy.”