A second Chagrin Falls Black Lives Matter march in response to the tragic death of George Perry Floyd looked different than the rally two days earlier as protesters marched from Chagrin Falls High School downtown to Riverside Park.
Organizers said the march had the support of both Black Lives Matter in Cleveland and the NAACP. At least 200 people gathered in the grass between the high school parking lot and East Washington Street with helicopters hovering somewhere out of sight.
“I’m a Chagrin Falls graduate who is adopted but is biracial and white-passing,” said Kat Jerina, 34, whose husband and children accompanied her to the protest. Mrs. Jerina said she observed behavior in Chagrin that people would not have engaged in had they known she was a person of color. “There’s a lot of insidious and hidden racism here.”
As they walked, the crowd shouted, “Show me what democracy looks like,” answered by the chant, “This is what democracy looks like.” They chanted Mr. Floyd’s name, and the name of Breonna Taylor, 26, a black Louisville, Kentucky, EMT who was shot to death in her home by police on March 13.
Mr. Floyd, 46, died while in custody on May 25 when a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer held his knee on the man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Mr. Floyd’s funeral was held earlier today and broadcast worldwide.
In Chagrin Falls, traffic ground to a halt on East Washington as three mounted police officers followed protesters, a squad car trailing behind them.
Mrs. Jerina said it was important to bring her children along to teach them their rights. “We have a responsibility, as parents, to show our young people how to do the right thing and to step up when they see problems,” she said. “Instead of the complacency that lead us to where we are in a town like this now, they have the ability to say something and work towards change.”
The downtown looked different on Thursday when protesters walked through because building owners had taken down the plywood that had been put up to protect windows before the Tuesday rally, which ended up being peaceful.
Once in the park, the crowd heard from the Rev. Morris Eason and the Rev. Dr. James Quincy, III, pastor of Lee Road Baptist Church in Cleveland and a member of the Cleveland NAACP executive board.
“We are here today, not simply because George Floyd’s life was lost, but we are here today to save the lives of his children, to save the lives of our children, to save the lives of their children’s children,” Dr. Quincy said.
He told the crowd that the NAACP stands with them and will continue to fight until this nation recognizes that every life matters and specifically that black lives matter.
“There has never been a question whether blue lives matter,” he said. “There has never been a question whether white lives matter. But there has always been a question whether black lives matter, and we have come together to say it is time for a change.”
The event ended with the crowd sitting on the ground in Riverside Park for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck. As the protesters sat down, a light rain began to fall that gradually picked up over the next minutes.
“The rain is no accident,” Rev. Eason told the crowd afterwards. “Everything happens for a reason. Right now, the rain is washing us of our impurities.”