Recent shootings spark peaceful march and rally in Daytona Beach
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
More than 200 people took part in a “United We Stand’’ march and rally on July 9, organized by a Deltona High School teacher.
“I’m just trying to be a pillar of the community and unite some people,’’ said Carlos Harris about the event he organized in about 24 hours. The event started and ended at Cypress Park and the Midtown Educational & Cultural Center in Daytona Beach.
“We’re all are here trying to make a change and stand against the injustice going on in the world. We are united against oppression and united for our community. This is a promising start. This was kicked off on Facebook with people passing the word,” he said.
‘Tired of this’
Harris, who also is a personal trainer, grew up in Pine Haven Apartments, a community located in the heart of Daytona’s Black community.
Recent shootings by police that killed two Black men – Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philandro Castile in Minneapolis, Minnesota – sparked the march and rally. The killing of five officers in Dallas, Texas, also was on the minds of many during Saturday’s peaceful event in Daytona Beach.
“Every time that we think this is over with, another one occurs. We are all tired of this happening in our community. For some reason, this happens in Black communities nationwide far too often. We want to bring attention to it and let those families know that they have support,” Harris noted.
Youth speak out
Those who participated were of different races and age groups. The young participants had plenty to say.
Rickkiria Mann, an incoming freshman at Bethune-Cookman University, called it “a motivational movement for everybody of all races. I feel like history is repeating itself and things will get worst if we don’t do anything.”
Added Jamari Robinson-Nelson, “I am tired of Black people getting killed, especially Black men. I am trying to help make a difference for our community. It seems that we are just getting killed for just anything if you’re Black. Robinson-Nelson is a student at Flagler Palm Coast High School.
Participants had a message for critics of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Supporting Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean that you don’t support All Lives Matter. We are bringing awareness to the injustices and the flaws in our justice system when it comes to Blacks, especially Black males and minorities. All of us are the human race so if you support Black Lives Matter you’re supporting the human race,” commented Naquisha Gibson.
Harris echoed, “We also must come together as a people. All lives matter but we must emphasize that Black Lives Matters. We are a part of this nation as well.’’
Bomani Akil Amen-Ra talked about economic empowerment.
“I came to support our people. We need to unite. We need to stop spending our dollars with those who don’t care for us,” Amen-Ra said. “The only way that things change is if we built our own communities economically and create our own wealth. We need our own schools and we need to control the politics of our own community.’’
Candidates weigh in
Local officials also were on hand as well as others seeking public office.
“This is great for the community to come together. Our citizens have concerns. Our police department takes sensitivity training and our officers will soon all have body cameras. Every city knows that we are one event away from such incidents, said Daytona Beach Commissioner Patrick Henry, who represents Zone 5.
Henry is running for the Florida House of Representatives District 26 seat. His opponent, former City Commissioner Steve Miller, also was there.
“It’s good to see the community come together to address injustices they face in society. We need to also hold our elected officials accountable,” he said.
Zone 5 City Commissioner candidate Willie Williams added, “I came to be a part of the solution. This is good for our community. This is to unite our community for the better. Carlos is my nephew. I want to be a commissioner because I hope to make my community the best that it can be. This event was encouraging with the peace and love shown here today.’’
The event began with a prayer followed by a march that went west on George Engram, south on Nova Road, west on International Speedway Boulevard and north on Adams Street.
Traffic was stopped during certain periods of the march at the intersection of International Speedway Boulevard and Nova Road as protesters lined up on all four corners of the intersection.
Protesters chanted, “What do we want? Justice! When Do We Want it? Now!’’ as well as “No Peace! No Justice’’ and “No Justice! No Peace!’’
Most drivers-by honked and pumped fists while others held signs out of their cars showing support.
Some spectators even joined in.
One motorcyclist was pulled over by a police officer for revving up his engine at an intersection but was let go. There were no other major incidents at the march or rally.
The event ended with patrons being treated to free pizza courtesy of Monique Reed.
Reed is from Daytona but now lives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where she teaches.
“I live in Dubai, but I am always on social media. I attended Campbell Middle and Mainland High. I am always representing my city and I love when others do it. I had to come home to show my support,” she said.
Harris said more events are in the works.
“We are in the process of forming a committee. We want to go to the city about some of the issues that we need solved in our community. We lack programs for our youth, especially our adolescents.
We also want to become more of role models in our communities, especially Black males,” Harris remarked.
He sees problems in the Black community at home tied to issues in the Black community nationwide.
“The system has injustices that seem to break up our families more than any other. We must unite as a people, especially Black males and come together and do good things in our community,” he added.