Tallahassee citizens assembledin droveson Saturday and Sunday, populating the busiest streets of the Sunshine State’s capital. Demonstrators bellowed cries of woe, outrage and weariness. The civil unrest pulsated across the nation as cities across America joined in a nationwide day of protest on Saturday, followed by more protests on Sunday.
They were fueled by last week’s killing of George Floyd, an African American security guard who was in the custody of four white Minneapolis police officers.
A collage of protesters formed the face of the social movement: Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, gay, straight. They united in the name of social justice.
Many demonstrations carried over into a second day of street marching, some displays growing increasingly violent just overnight. Leon County imposed a curfew for both Saturday and Sunday nights, as did many cities.
Graphic media rolling out of the cities of Tampa, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Atlanta depicted idle cars set ablaze, clothing and electronics stores ransacked, and businesses burned to the ground.
Those images triggered a sense of deep disappointment in the heart of many community leaders, including the Rev. R.B. Holmes, pastor at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee. Holmes said that the community has got to “turn their anger into action.”
And action is exactly what he plans to take.
Holmes said he will outline the demands of the public and more in a press release this Monday morning. The reverend plans to campaign for an independent police review board, a strategy requested time and time again by Leon County Commissioner Bill proctor.
Proctor urges demonstrators to fight for something he’s been asking for, for years: An independent police review board that would hold police accountable. Tallahassee Police officers have been involved in three officer-involved shootings in less than 10 weeks, each resulting in the death of an African American resident.
“I wanna know, out of everyone out there touting a bull horn, how many of them registered to vote,” Proctor said. “If you ain’t registered to vote, all this walking up and down the street ain’t gone mean jack.”
Demonstrations sparked controversy among onlookers this weekend. Anthony Sabatini, a Republican member of Florida Legislature, tweeted a picture of an AR-15, the caption warning protestors not to come to Lake County. He said the weapon would be a common sight to see in the days of civil demonstrations.
Protestors have said they plan to continue demonstrating as long as it takes to see policing reform.