A night of peaceful rallies in Harrisonburg

Those at the rally marched from Liberty Park down to Hotel Madison and back to Liberty Park...
Those at the rally marched from Liberty Park down to Hotel Madison and back to Liberty Park passing City Hall.(WHSV)
Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 11:34 PM EDT
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Monday night, hundreds peacefully took to the streets of Downtown Harrisonburg to express frustrations over the death of George Floyd and police brutality.

A community prayer was held outside the Harrisonburg Public Safety Building just after 5 p.m.

"We're going to come together prayerfully and see changes in legislation, changes in the judicial system, and hopefully change in how we get along and treat each other," Chris Jones with the Harrisonburg City Council, said.

Councilmen Jones said he got the idea Sunday night as a way for the community to heal after tragedies that have hit many cities across the country in the past week.

Different speakers were asked to come up to sing, pray, or just talk about the future on how the community can become stronger together.

At 6 p.m. a rally was held behind the Harrisonburg Police Station in Liberty Park. At least 1,000 people showed up wearing masks to march in silence and to listen to people who have experienced police brutality.

The crowd made up of a diverse background included families like Ken Wettig's who said he brought his young son so he can learn about his privilege and how they can help the black community.

"It's connected to a long history and it just feels time, to be honest, and public about our experience of that as a family," Wettig said.

From Liberty Street to Hotel Madison and back down South Main street all that could be heard were footsteps hitting the pavement. At one point those in the rally began chanting and another member said to stop, let Harrisonburg be the example, and continue silently.

Morgan Strait was at the rally on Monday and said after attending Charlottesville's and Richmond's over the weekend, this one was much different.

"I almost want to say this may be taking it too deeply but it's like a metaphor you know," Strait said. "All of these people are dead and all they get is silence for the rest of forever."

The rally ended after everyone returned to Liberty Park and a few speakers. But organizers said this will not be the end of rallies held in Harrisonburg.

"I think if it just lasted until all the cops that murdered George Floyd were charged that would make everyone happy," Aliyah Hall, who was at the rally, said. "But if I continued after that, it would show everyone its not just three murders but everything that's been done to black people."

There was a small amount of police presence on Monday but mainly for officers to clear intersections during the march.