Gadsden County shows support for Black Lives Matter

Protesters symboling “Black Power.” Photo by Adahlia Thomas

QUINCY — About 100 Gadsden County residents, most wearing face masks, marched from James A. Shanks Middle School to the Quincy courthouse in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on Saturday morning.

Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a white man who had been charged with killing black teenager Trayvon Martinin Sanford, never Orlando.

Recently, the movement has been used to bring about awareness and justice for the harassment and killing of Black Americans by police officers.

Memorial Day, May 25, the day 46-year-old George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, was the day everyone had had enough.

“What happened to George Floyd was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back,” the leader of Saturday’s protest, Eddie Lee McMillian, Jr., said. “Enough is enough, we’re not animals.”

McMillian, a Quincy resident, was deeply moved by the recent events and thought it would be a good idea for his small town, the largest municipality in the county,  to show support.

Quincy resident, Crystle May, giving out water for protesters in support of #BlackLivesMatter. Photo by Adahlia Thomas

Two days before the protest, county commissioners had Quincy’s infamous confederate statue removed. Attorney Charles Gee, a graduate of Florida A&M’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication, initiated the change and had petitions signed and sent a letter to Gadsden County requesting the removal.

“It was time,” McMillian said about the statue being removed. “Individuals tried to do it before, but with God, there’s always timing … this was the time.”

The statue was a monument of slavery and oppression and county commissioners agreed that it was time to take it down.

Marching alongside the protesters were law enforcement officers. Chief Glenn Sapp, Quincy’s police chief, said he as glad to be part of a pivotal point in history.

“Black Lives Matter has a very emotional meaning to me. You know, I’m the son of a father who died incarcerated in a Georgia state penitentiary in 1987, so I understand the prison-industrial complex,” Sapp said.

“I grew up here, in Quincy, and came of age in the 1970s and ’80s, so I remember Quincy when things were not so diverse and fair,” he added. “We’ve made a lot of progress.”

Although a lot of progress has been made, there is still a lot to be done. Both Sapp and McMillian hope to see change in the community and in the justice system.

“What I’m hoping for is that we come together as a people, which we did, but not just this day — every day,” McMillian said. “We got to change that crab mentality. Ad I want to let people know, it starts with us first.”

Quincy resident Rosetta Hylton-Anderson, said that one way to guarantee change during this time is by voting.

“It’s very important because you cannot take this election for granted, you cannot, ’cause the devil say he gonna win again,” Hylton-Anderson said, “I don’t believe him, but I ain’t taking it for granted.”