More than Just a Moment
For eight minutes and forty-six seconds, bodies of protesters lay face down in the grass with their hands behind their backs. It was silent except for the cries of a small child calling “mommy, mommy,” not understanding why his momma, attentive just moments before, was now lying on the ground in front of Euclid Library, seemingly unresponsive.
The knee of police officer Derek Chauvin pressed upon the neck of George Floyd for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, slowly suffocating him as George called out for his own momma.
The crowd of protesters chanted the name of Breonna Taylor twenty-seven times to recognize the twenty-seventh birthday that she was not alive to celebrate. As she slept, officers entered her home unannounced, using a “no-knock” warrant. Despite the fact that the actual suspects for whom they were searching were already in custody, they shot Breonna eight times.
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. For them, and for countless others, Faith in the City, an organization commissioned to unite churches from all denominations, joined global protests this past Thursday, June 11, orchestrating the Rally for Change for the City of Euclid. Religious and community leaders began the rally by guiding protestors down 222nd Street. With lifted fists and raised signs, protestors shouted “Black Lives Matter!”
The vivid juxtaposition of Euclid police officers blocking traffic to protect the lives of demonstrators was clear to everyone present.
Our march ended in front of Euclid Public Library, but our protest continued peacefully, starting with a powerful decree that asserts, in part:
In the name of God who created each of us in the divine image and placed breath with us:
We lament, mourn, and decry the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many others whose full human life was denied to them by violence, police brutality, and racism.
We affirm that Black lives matter. Where any of us failed to fully support the lives of our brothers, sisters, and siblings of color, we repent. We covenant to work together to address the scourge of racism and its legacy of systemic violence . . . .
Poetry, prayers, moving speeches and soulful songs followed the collective reading of the full-length decree, challenging the hearts and minds of those gathered.
As a Black woman, I’ve learned to make myself numb to the prejudices my husband has experienced and continues to experience every day. I’ve avoided race conversations with my five-year-old son because it hurts too much to explain that his beautiful brown skin is weaponized, considered threatening, and could be the reason that white children at the playground won’t play with him.
The words of protest co-organizer and former Euclid City councilwoman Taneika Hill, though, give women like me the courage to dig deep and express ourselves. Ms. Hill, along with Mayor Holzheimer Gail, Rev. Brian T. Moore, and many others, affirmed that we have a right to feel angry and to communicate that anger peacefully. Most importantly, we need to demand change proactively through our community involvement and our votes.
This rally and the countless protests like it are proof that what we are experiencing, in this country and around the world, is not just a moment. We are creating a movement, demanding long-overdue justice and equality, and we are going to change the world.
For our children, for ourselves, and for justice — we are finally changing the world.
This story was written by Rachel Bevel for Fresh Water Cleveland and reprinted here with their permission.