MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – For the third time this week, there was a large Black Lives Matter protest and march in Morgantown to demand accountability and justice for the death of George Floyd and other people of color who have been killed by police.
Organizer Sammantha Norris and others were handing out flowers to all women of color who came to the event on Saturday to help commemorate the death of Breonna Taylor. Taylor was an African American woman who was shot while sleeping in her apartment when the Louisville Metro Department executed a no-knock search warrant. Friday, June 6, would’ve been Taylor’s 27th birthday.
“I’m sure that most people realize that when Black women die from police brutality, it very quickly gets overlooked by the police and it’s definitely an issue,” Norris said. “George Floyd’s murderers are in jail right now, but Breonna Taylor’s murderers are still walking free and that’s a problem. I really want to uplift black women to let them know that they are loved, they are valued, they are worthy members of the community and we’re going to do everything we can to keep uplifting them.”
The protest began with people gathering at the Mountainlair Greens on the West Virginia University campus, where there was music, speeches and dancing to get the crowd energized for the march. The protesters did two laps of the downtown area before heading back to the Mountainlair for more music, dancing and a candlelight vigil.
Although the Minneapolis police officer’s who were involved in Floyd’s death have been charged and arrested, there were still chants and signs bearing his name. These signs and chants were the voices of college-age and middle age individuals, as well as children.
“It’s incredible knowing that the community cares so much about equality, cares so much about racial justice and about police reform,” Norris said. “It’s important that we all gather together and uplift everyone and that’s what this is, this is our community event.”
Norris said she encouraged everyone to come, to bring their families, children and others in their lives.
“Communities make changes happen and if we make changes in our local community, then they’re going to happen everywhere,” Norris said.
A big part of Norris’ message about bringing about change lies beyond protesting, she’s a proponent of getting protesters out to vote. Norris has said repeatedly that voting is the best way to effect change.
Norris said they had a voter registration drive setup on Saturday organized by WVU’s Black Student Union. She encouraged everyone who was registered to vote in the June 9 primaries to do so. As for those who were not registered, Norris had a message for them as well.
“If you don’t show out this Tuesday, then show up in November, make sure that we vote for the right people, for the people that care about the country, the people that care about our state, the community,” Norris said.
The organizer said she wants people to keep up the spirit and not let the movement lose momentum. She said they protesters and advocates have been working for change and admitted that sometimes the process can seems slow, but added that that shouldn’t discourage people.
“If we keep going, if we keep pushing forward it’s really going to happen and we’re going to have a better world for our children,” Norris said.