Rally against police brutality held in Harrisonburg's Court Square
Friday night, starting at 6 p.m., a rally was held at Court Square in Harrisonburg in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
Stan Maclin, with the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center in Harrisonburg, said the idea of the event was to provide people a peaceful way to express how they feel toward police brutality and hatred.
"Unfortunately, other parts of the country people do not have an atmosphere as we do here in Harrisonburg," Maclin said. " When police are supposed to serve and protect, which in many places they do, and it turns from that to torment or kill, then it's time to take a stand and speak out."
Maclin said by no means is the rally targeted at local law enforcement, but toward events that have transpired over the last week across the country.
"Our police department is very much concerned about community policing," Maclin said. "What we witnessed on the television set of the literal murder of George Floyd is just unacceptable."
Maclin said there will be speakers at the rally to address what has happened in Minneapolis.
Those in attendance were asked to wear face masks and practice physical distancing from one another.
Court Square soon filled with people demanding change and action.
"Please help us," Francie Osando, a rally attendee, said. "Stand up, help black men, help us stop police from killing another black man."
Monica Robinson, who attended the rally, said Americans need to begin to have an open dialogue about race.
"Just start talking," Robinson said. "Start talking about race, start talking about color, talk about why there are differences, and how we can eliminate those differences."
She said if you are white, begin having conversations with people of color who you have a close relationship with.
"You'll begin to understand," Robinson said. "Some people are afraid to discuss color and what the impacts of color are for black people, white people, brown people, but if we don't ask people that are close to us, then who do you ask?"
Another rallier said she attended the Friday event because she wanted to do more than just share a post about Floyd on social media.
"You have to start in your own community and it has to be everyone," Kearstin Kimm, who attended the rally, said. "It is not the responsibility of black people to end racism. It's very important and absolutely necessary for white people and all other human beings to join this, and end it together."
Friday afternoon, Chief Eric English of the Harrisonburg Police Department released a
regarding the events that happened in Minneapolis earlier this week.
In it, Chief English said the Harrisonburg Police Department will continue to press forward to ensure they "are providing quality service to the citizens of our city."
He said he is praying for the family of George Floyd, as this should have never occurred.
The Harriet Tubman Cultural Center, located off Reservoir Street in Harrisonburg, will reopen to tours starting June 1. For an appointment, call (540) - 578-6389.