Hundreds of East Enders gathered at Herrick Park in East Hampton on Saturday, June 6, to protest the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died May 25 after he was arrested by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Saturday’s protest followed many others that have taken place across the East End this week. East Enders continue to come together, joining protestors around the world in an outcry over police brutality and systematic racism.
The peaceful protest was organized by local students. It began at Herrick Park where the organizers gave a brief speech on what moved them to assemble this community gathering. In their speeches, the students stressed why now, more than ever before, “We, as a nation, need to come together to end police brutality and racism, not only in America, but throughout the world.”
Justin Frazier, a 24-year-old black man from East Hampton, hopes all the protests happening across the globe in the wake of Floyd’s death will result in “a larger awareness of what people of color have dealt with, and continue to deal with on a daily basis.” Frazier is tired of African Americans and people of color “being abused socially and physically.” He finished his thoughts by stating “I want everyone to be free.”
Thomas Nelson, like Frazier, also a 24-year-old black man from East Hampton, heard about the peaceful protest in East Hampton through social media, like many others who showed up to be a part of Saturday’s community demonstration. Nelson, a future teacher, simply wishes that “people become more tolerant and accepting of everyone for who they are, and not judge them on the basis of their skin color.”
After the passionate speeches by the organizers, protestors marched through Herrick Park, then down Newtown Lane, making a left on Main Street, and ending at the Hook Mill Windmill. Similar to recent protests all across the world, peaceful activists held signs with potent messages above their heads, shouting out powerful chants like “black lives matter,” “no justice, no peace,” and “I can’t breathe.”
People of all ages and races marched together down Main Street. Families and friends, children and elders, couples and strangers all came together Saturday with a common goal of ending racism.
Those working at stores in the village stopped what they were doing, and came outside to witness the march. Even people grocery shopping at Stop & Shop and Citarella stopped in their tracks to witness what was happening in town.
When the crowd reached the Hook Mill Windmill, an 8 minute, 46 second moment of silence was held for Floyd. That is the amount of time Floyd was held down by Chauvin’s knee on his neck. The officer has since been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.
At Hook Mill, D’Ashley-Heather Wilson a Ross School alum from East Hampton, began an impassioned speech that played on the heartstrings of protestors. She begged her fellow community members to educate themselves saying, “Learn your history, learn your language, and learn your words because they have meaning. Think about what you say before you speak. Say it with your chest, so that when you do speak, you mean it.”
Ava Lantiere, an 18-year-old white woman from Sag Harbor hopes there is a “complete reframing of legislation, adjustments done to the police force, and really just a shift of mentality of people.”
The student speaker finished off her powerful speech with an inspiring message. “There is only one race, the human race.”