When Tahara Johnson and Lauren Burke decided to hold signs decrying police brutality following the death of George Floyd, they set in motion a series of peaceful protests, the latest in Georgetown.
Johnson, 21, of Ellendale, organized the June 3 protest on The Circle, through a social media blast that drew a diverse crowd of about 200. Hispanics, whites and African Americans held signs, chanted, prayed and gathered in unity to protest the death of Floyd, who died May 25 while in police custody.
“The more the better. It's great to share the message, and that everyone can empathize and share it as one,” Johnson said. “Unity is the biggest goal here for everyone to come, no matter if you’re purple, or orange or whatever.”
Lauren Burke, 19, of Lewes said she is protesting because she wants police brutality to end.
“A lot of my friends are black, my boyfriend is black, I have family who is black, and I’ve been present when my black friends experience police brutality,” she said.
“My friends were thrown on the ground while I was told to just turn out my pockets. When you see it in person, you feel like throwing up.”
University of Delaware student Matison Smith, 19, of Seaford said she came out to protest because she recognizes her privilege as a white woman and wants to see an end to police brutality that targets minorities. Growing up in Seaford, she said, she has seen it firsthand.
“There’s definitely been an unfair police presence, and you can definitely tell that minorities are targeted,” she said.
Lawrence Walston of Georgetown said he brought his kids to the event so they could be a part of it.
With a resonant voice, he entreated the crowd to treat one another with respect.
“If you just change one action, then you’ll see someone else do it, because you never know who is watching or following us. We are led by example,” he said. “The looting and rioting is not the change that is needed.”
Taking the microphone, local activist Jane Hovington told the crowd that police brutality against minorities has to end.
“There should be justice for everybody.
“It shouldn’t be based on the color of his skin, it should be based on who he is, respective of his character,” said Hovington, a promoter of the event.
Bernice Edwards, executive director of First State Community Action Agency, encouraged the crowd to rally for change.
“We as a community cannot let this happen again. We all are accountable,” she said. “If we are all for the same cause, you don’t have to worry, because what is right will prevail.”