Augustans have nonviolent protests in response to George Floyd murder

Protestors in downtown Augusta march along Broad Street to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement. (photo by Emily Garcia)

In response to the recent murder in Minneapolis of George Floyd, Augusta University students have been participating in protests in the Augusta area.

“Not much has changed [in terms of racism in America],” Francesca Collette-Hicks said, “Racism never went away; [now] it’s just being recorded.”

After the video of Floyd dying while in police custody went viral, Collette-Hicks, a sophomore at Augusta University (AU), saw Black Lives Matter protests appearing all over the country and wanted Augustans to come together and participate.

At first Collette-Hicks gathered 40 people; however, she knew there were more supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement and that she just needed a way to reach them.

Alasya Owten, a creative director in the community, reached out to Collette-Hicks on social media, sharing her same wish to unite the CSRA, and within a few days the two were coordinating their first protest together.

The protest, which took place on Tuesday, June 2, gathered at least 100 members of the CSRA community to march a portion of Broad Street. The march culminated in an assembly of people laying with their chest to the ground for eight moments of silence to commemorate the death of Floyd, who was penned to the ground by the police officers in Minneapolis. All four officers have been charged. Derek Chauvin, the officer who had his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, faces second-degree murder charges. Chauvin and the other three officers were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department.

Meanwhile, the Augusta Police Department sanctioned Tuesday’s event, provided protestors with crosswalk passage and got to the ground to share the commemorative silence with the protestors.

Owten and Collette-Hicks both emphasized peacefulness when advertising this protest and others.

The two also shared the same sentiment that the media does not communicate the message that violent protests send out as effectively as it does nonviolent.

“Peacefulness brings the true colors out of people,” said Owten, “it allows people time to breathe and just realize what’s going on [in the world].”

Collette-Hicks mentioned that in order to unify the community on a peaceful front it is important to include local government officials.

The AU sophomore said city officials are supportive of the need for the community to protest and are granting them permits in a matter of days. Usually, the process to obtain a permit takes a month.

If you are unable to be physically present for a protest, Collette-Hicks recommended educating yourself about local candidates before heading off to the polls and signing the petition to get hate crime legislation passed in Georgia.

The petition can be found at: Petition.

Owten said she considers protesting to encompass much more than marching with a large group of people.

“Protesting could be done in your front yard. Protesting could be at your job. People should realize that there is power in numbers but there is also power in your one voice,” said Owten,

Owten and Collette-Hicks are planning further peaceful marches with the community, including one on Saturday, June 6, at 6:30 p.m. on Eighth Street and Reynolds Street.

The event will also host guest speakers and poets, and the organizers are openly inviting political candidates to attend.

Owten encouraged people to, “Stand for something. Stand with us.”

Protests for the Black Lives Matter movement were also held on Wrightsboro Road last weekend and in Evans on Monday.

This article originally appeared in The Bellringer: https://aubellringer.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/augustans-have-nonviolent-protests-in-response-to-george-floyd-murder/

Published by Emily G. Garcia

Enterprise Reporter at The Red & Black

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