The social justice movement that has sparked protests across the country reaches El Paso
The social justice movement growing across the nation reached El Paso. Protesters gathered last night near Memorial Park before marching to El Paso Police Department (EPPD) headquarters.
Across the country on Sunday, protests erupted in large-scale demonstrations since the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, who died in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Video of his death was posted on Facebook, where the police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck shortly before his death. Floyd repeated the words, “I can breathe”.
Since the incident, protests have erupted across the nation. Beginning in Minneapolis, the site of Floyd’s death, protesters have spread from New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and now El Paso. These cities and twenty more have all experienced heated confrontations between protestors and police officers according to CNN.
El Paso’s protest was organized through an Instagram post. The poster reached out for assistance to Black El Paso Voice, a local news and media organization for El Paso’s black community. The organization explained that they are “here in El Paso fighting for fair treatment.” through alternative methods but put out on their Facebook page that they would not participate.
The protest began at 6 p.m. on May 31 on the corner of Grant and North Raynor. Police were already present as a few protesters began to group on a small part of Memorial Park. By 6:30 p.m., a crowd surrounded a small green turtle, a park statue, as a few protesters spoke, one of them being John Levic.
“(I) felt that there wasn’t a white person that was going to come out,” said, young white male protester Levic.
Levic added, “To be a white person at these things, you need to use your privilege and you need to use that to protect your friends that happen to be people of color.”
Before Levic, Kamila Chantz, a black female protester, spoke out before the crowd about her personal experience with racism. She recited how young boys would call out racial slurs towards her and how they received no punishment afterward.
“You guys need to realize that we are the change, we are what’s going to change. We need to go out there, help our community,” said protester Chantz. “If your friends are silent, they are not your friends.”
After the speeches, the march took way. Starting from the Memorial park, making their way downhill towards the EPPD headquarters, protesters chanted “I can’t breathe”, “hands up, don’t shoot”, “Black Lives Matter.”
Protesters made their way back to Memorial Park where some parted ways while others continued their march. Tension slowly increased as protesters faced each other from two lawns and police officers cautiously watched for any misbehavior. The protesters took a knee in a moment of silence until they rose to march again.
The peaceful protest turned violent towards the night as protestors stayed in the park, refusing to leave the place. Police officers surrounded the area and started to back up the large crowd. Protestors at Memorial Park were tear gassed by the police officers around 9:30 p.m., some demonstrators began to disperse and others remained in the park.
After people left the scene and there was no widespread vandalism, unlike in other cities across the nation in the last six days.
By Brandy Ruiz