Harrisonburg protesters hold 'Silent March' against police brutality
Protests are continuing in cities across the country sparked by last week's killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Protests continue here in the Shenandoah Valley, including a silent one Monday night in downtown Harrisonburg.
The Harrisonburg Silent March gained support from thousands of people just 24 hours after an event was scheduled on Facebook.
Maleke Jones, the organizer of the march, said he wanted people to come together to safely protest the death of Floyd and countless other people of color.
He said the march will begin in Liberty Park, proceed to Hotel Madison, return back down Main St., past the Harrisonburg Police Department, and end back at Liberty Park.
"It feels good to see so many people try and support this movement, just because over the years it's been steadily growing, slowly but surely," Jones said. "Just to see in less than 24 hours over 500 people are coming to this event, it's just amazing."
Jones said he decided to organize the silent march because after seeing protests around the country result in deaths, injuries, and arrests, he didn't want that to happen in Harrisonburg.
"Speak out about what's going on using signs and just following the movement," Jones said. "If they were to be chanting and stuff like that, it could very easily get out of hand, and like I said, that's not what I want to happen here."
To ensure the march remains peaceful, Jones said there have been people placed throughout the crowd who will de-escalate any situations that could turn hateful or violent.
"They're just going to be strategically placed to make sure that no one gets out of hand, no one is engaging in provoking conversations with the cops, or anyone that's going to escalate the situation," Jones said.
He said he is excited to see people come together for this silent march, but participants should remember that the protests happening in cities across the country are bigger than the death of Floyd.
"It's not just from this one murder, it's 400 plus years of all this stuff accumulated," Jones said.
Jones said the participants were asked to wear face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19 and dress in black clothing.