Local protests fairly peaceful

Organizer recovering after driver ran over his foot and didn’t stop.

A group of protesters march down Derbyshire Road in Daytona Beach on May 29. More protests in Daytona and surrounding areas are expected this month.
PHOTOS BY DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

“I blacked out. I came through later and saw some videos. I don’t remember. I did realize at the time the driver was still on my foot and smiling at me while doing so.” – Rell Black, Director of Community Healing Project

The fallout from Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd on May 25 continues as racial tension and protests engulfed the nation.

Most protests have been peaceful but others led to rioting, looting and arson.

There also have been protests popping up locally as well, including three in Daytona with one resulting in local activist Rell Black having his foot run over by a vehicle.

Protests also occurred this week in Ormond Beach, DeLand, New Smyrna Beach on State Road 44 and in Port Orange at the Dunlawton Bridge.

Another protest, “I Can’t Breathe: Peaceful Protest,’’ was scheduled for Thursday at City Island Library in Daytona Beach.

The protest was sponsored by the Black Clergy Alliance, the Martin Luther King Celebration Committee of Volusia, Daytona Beach police department, F.A.I.T.H. (Fighting Against Injustice Towards Harmony), Bethune-Cookman University’s School of Religion and Daytona Beach city leaders.

“We’re part of our community. We work together. We have a great relationship with the community. We can do this peacefully and together,” said Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri.

Activist injured

Rell Black, whose real name is Dyrell Johnson, organized two protests in Daytona over the weekend. He is the director of Community Healing Project.

Sunday’s protest at the International Speedway Boulevard bridge and Beach Street drew about 300 people and resulted in Johnson having his foot ran over by a woman in a vehicle.

“I’m doing OK. There are no broken bones. They think I may have nerve damage. I’ll find out later in the week,’’ he told the Daytona Times.

It was a tense moment.

“I blacked out. I came through later and saw some videos. I don’t remember. I did realize at the time the driver was still on my foot and smiling at me while doing so,” Black added.

Protestors chant at Derbyshire Park. Daytona Beach Police Department said on Wednesday there have been no arrests or property damage from the demonstrations.

Charges pending

Daytona Beach police said that charges are pending.

“There will be some charges,” said Capri. “There could possibly be a charge of leaving the scene of an accident.”

Two days before the Sunday protest, Johnson held one at Derbyshire Park on May 29 that drew about 30 people.

“We wanted to show that we can bring the community together in a positive manner. We won’t allow anything like that to happen here. The protests were a success and positive. We had food donated both days, including a lot on Sunday,” said Black.

Racial overtones

During Sunday’s protest, there were reports of drivers by yelling cuss words and racial slurs at protesters as well as throwing things.

“Yes, those things did happen but overall it was a fun event. It was multiracial, multicultural, multi-religious as well as people of all ages and genders,” said Black.

On Wednesday, police stood by a statement issued on Monday that no protesters were arrested, and no property was damaged in Daytona Beach.

Protesters weigh in

Draya Rivers was among the protesters at the International Speedway bridge.

“It’s not just for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor but the countless names we don’t know that don’t get the media attention that have been victims to racism and police brutality,” Rivers said. “It’s time for a change. Our people have been oppressed for over 400 years. Enough is enough.”

Taylor was shot to death by police in her home in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 13.

Evans Smith was at both protests organized by Black.

“I joined the first one but just happened to be at the second one,” Smith said.

“Whenever we see an innocent life taken, it’s devastating. We are fighting for justice in our city and country. Things like this can’t happen anymore.”

‘Support and solidarity’

Protesters also see Floyd’s incident as murder.“It’s murder pure and simple. It’s unspeakable that it happened. The system where officers feel secure that they could do this has to change,” said Ann Ruby.

Charlie Sunshine echoed, “I came out to show my support and solidarity to George Floyd and all the victims of police brutality all over the country.”

“It’s beyond tragic. It’s infuriating,” Sunshine said. “Those officers killed him in cold blood. Only one is being charged with third-degree murder which means in Minnesota they didn’t intend too but the video clearly shows they did.”

Expect more protests in Daytona and surrounding areas in the coming weeks.

In New Smyrna Beach, protesters plan to hold demonstrations on Sundays from 4 to 5 p.m. at State Road 44 and Wallace Road.

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