- Daytona Beach, Fl – May 30, 2020
In 2014, New York lost Eric Garner to the hands of police. Eric Garner was put in a choke hold by NYPD for allegedly selling unlicensed cigarettes. A crime that doesn’t hold a death sentence. Yet, this was the outcome for this father and family man. After protest, marches, and constant pressure it seemed things started to change. Fast forward to 2020, in Minneapolis, a man by the name of George Floyd would meet a very similar fate. It makes us wonder what will it take to truly get a change. To actually feel protected by police instead of uncertain. But before we dig deep, I’d like to point out an interesting observation that will show an uncanny and underlining truth about the state America and how it may have intensified.
Daytona Beach,Fl held a peaceful protest led by Rell Black, a pivotal young man in the city’s moral & educational development along with being an important voice when it comes to injustices and black culture. Rell was apart of a large team that visited Houston,TX to deliver essential goods after the devastating hurricane Harvey hit in 2017. Even recently, Rell held a beach clean up the day after large crowds flooded the city for Memorial Day Weekend. This is only two of many examples that shows the extremes Rell has gone to to impute change.
I found the peaceful protest as they approached Beach St & ISB Blvd. As I approach I noticed a man jump out of a truck from the passenger side; a white man. The truck carried a boat behind it and the boat carried a huge Trump flag. The man snatched the flag off his boat and put it inside of the truck before he passed the protest. At first it didn’t make sense to me. How does that even correlate to the situation and why would he want to hide a Trump flag as he passed a protest about a man being killed by the police? It hit me later. As I sat in the median on ISB Blvd, to get a unique vantage point take a photo, a man drove by in a white pick-up truck flicking off the crowd of protestors. It sort of hurt my feelings to know that someone, who could potentially be my neighbor, had such harsh feelings towards the situation. As I stared at the truck while it passed guess what sticker he had stamped on the back of his truck? A Trump sticker.
Before I give my opinion I’d like to point out that the protest was one of the most beautiful protest I’ve ever seen. It was diverse. It warmed my heart to see that it wasn’t just a black and white thing. Some people just want what’s right and see the obvious inequalities. Social media and the new age of technology definitely intensified situations that would have ultimately gone unseen or unheard. Which brings me to my earlier point. In order for a man to hide his Trump flag as he passed a protest about a black man being killed by a cop, yet again, says to me that he felt that Trump flag held a deeper meaning. Which was that it fueled racism and the death of George Floyd was fueled by racism. Which is a very sad sentiment towards the state of this country. I mean, if the country’s leader made racist feel more comfortable what does that really say?
Despite this saddening observation this protest gave me great vibes. There was so much passion there. So much love. I was proud for our city. I’ll be honest, I was discouraged moments before I joined the protest. Wondering how things could actually change. This protest gave me a new outlook. A new motivation. We’re definitely lucky and blessed to have leaders such as Rell Black, along with other great leaders.
The picture above is Rell Black being carried away by ambulance after having his foot run over. It happened moments after a man yelled, “They’re trying to hit us with their cars now!”. Yet, the look on his face isn’t troubled at all. It seemed that we are used to being resilient during times like this. This is the strength I felt.
This scene happened after I left. When I was there things were pleasant. I had a photoshoot to do at 1pm so I left the protest early. Some of the protestors said that they had been marching for hours already when I arrived around 12. My photoshoot ended around 4pm. I went to WAWA on the corner of ISB Blvd and people were still out protesting. I was literally amazed at the perseverance they had towards making sure this message was heard. Despite the heat, despite the discouragement, despite the rage from racist, they didn’t let up. The beauty of some people is something to really awe upon, at times. Big shout out to Kale Cafe (116 N Beach St, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114) and the entire family for handing out cold smoothies for protestors to drink.
Don’t be confused. I started this article off rough because I wanted you to understand the resilience of our people. George Floyd can’t get anything from us physically now. But his family still has to push through in this tough time here on Earth. This is why it is so necessary that we have situations such as these peaceful protest. It is to constantly remind the people that we can’t let up. The moment we ease up is the moment they feel they can do as they feel to us. But the people show resilience every time. If you don’t believe me, just go back to Rell’s picture above moments after his foot was crushed.
Thank you to all the people that dedicated their time for this moment. Keep the fight alive and continue to apply pressure!
Written : Bruce Walton Jr