ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – There was a peaceful protest Monday through the streets of St. Augustine.
Hundreds of people took part in the demonstration to voice their concerns about the death of George Floyd, who died a week ago in police custody in Minneapolis. They also protested police brutality, social injustice and racism.
“No justice, no peace, no racist police,” the protesters yelled. “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.”
The demonstration started about 5:30 p.m. in front of the steps of the St. Augustine Police Department, where organizers gave speeches about injustice and police brutality toward African Americans in general. After nearly 30 minutes of speeches, protesters took to the streets in a peaceful march.
St. Augustine police and St. John’s County sheriff’s deputies provided security and even halted traffic to allow protesters to safely march down Ponce de Leon Boulevard. As they marched, News4Jax spoke with some of them who say it was important for them to take part in this protest.
“This has been going on and on and on, and it’s time for someone to pay attention to us and it’s time for this to stop. We need to come together and stop being so divided. We’re all human beings," said Ina Backmon.
Pastor David Williamson said: "It’s essential for people like me who are white to not be silent and uninvolved and not hearing the voices of those who are hurt by this systemic, institutional and cultural racism.”
Pastor Ron Rawls, who was the lead organizer of the protest, said he appreciated the overwhelming number of white people who joined the march to protest what he deems racial injustice toward African Americans, most recently the death of Floyd.
“The people out here with us, they have very strong skin. They can look in the mirror," Rawls said. “If I can’t be honest and talk about the demonic and evil white supremacy because their feeling are hurt, I can’t be effective.”
News4Jax asked Rawls what he wanted people to take away from this experience.
“We are at war. My people have experienced the consequences and casualties of war since we’ve been here. We fought through Jim Crow, Civil War, slavery, civil rights movement and we’re still dealing with the same issues of police brutality, unfair and unjust policies,” Rawls said.
When the demonstration ended, those who participated went on their way without causing any problems.