By Stefanie Jackson – The death of George Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis, Minn., who suffered at the hands of city police, has spawned protests across the country, including on the Eastern Shore.
Kaliyah Diamond Weatherly, of Cape Charles, is the organizer of Justice for George Floyd, a protest walk scheduled for Saturday, June 6, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Exmore.
Participants will gather in front of Exmore Town Park. The park remains closed due to COVID-19 but the parking lot in front will be open for public use, Town Manager Robert Duer said on Monday.
“This is a protest for all the George Floyds in our communities. The ones that have perished in our black community because of their race!” Weatherly said on Facebook.
She invited the community to join her “peacefully as we march and chant and show out for our black brothers and sisters against police brutality.”
There will be guidelines to follow. “This is not a violent protest,” Weatherly wrote. “It’s not for the purpose of destroying anyone’s property in our small community or setting things ablaze. It’s for the purpose of us being heard and making a change and showing the world we can support our brothers and sisters.”
She also asked participants to wear personal protective equipment and practice social distancing in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Gerald Boyd, of Eastern Shore Training and Consulting Inc. and the Peacewerks Center for Well-Being on Main Street in Exmore, offered his help and will participate in the event.
COVID-19 isn’t the only pandemic that should concern citizens, he indicated.
“Racism is pandemic,” Boyd said. “It is eating away at the vitals of our country, and it shows up in a systemic way.”
Every institution of American society is plagued by the “illness” of racism, bias, and prejudice, he said.
“There’s an open wound here” that needs attention, Boyd said.
Racism is so integrated in American society that black people internalize it and “use it to keep ourselves down.”
“We each need to examine our thinking and our behaviors … policies must change, behaviors must stop,” Boyd said.
He will join the group that will gather on Saturday in front of Exmore Town Park and walk down Main Street toward the former Fresh Pride building.
Northampton County Sheriff David Doughty, Sgt. Chad Kellam, and six sheriff’s deputies will assist the Exmore Police Department during the event, Chief Angelo DiMartino said.
Police will escort the participants and help keep everyone safe. The intersection at Route 13 will be blocked “so that we don’t have somebody pull up in a vehicle and try and give them any trouble,” he said.
“I just think if we can make this a … good, positive event and a peaceful event, it would be good on our part and theirs. We want them to be heard. … This is important to them.”
DiMartino said he and his officers “fully support” the protest “as long as it stays peaceful, and we’re going to make sure that happens.”