Jevanta Reid, 25, who was born and raised in Gainesville, said he knows from personal experience what it is like to be harassed by the police for being black.
Not too long ago when he was riding in the passenger side of a vehicle with one of his white female friends and her sister, he said a police officer pulled them over for a defective tail light.
As soon as the officer noticed Reid, he said the conversation took a turn.
“They were like, ‘How do you know him? How do you know these two people?,’” Reid recounted.
Reid said he makes a point to treat everyone, no matter their background, with respect. The recent incident is only one of many where people have judged him by the color of his skin before getting to know him, he said.
Conversations on race
Today, The Times shares perspectives from those who have protested on Gainesville’s streets in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Those who would like to tell of their experiences can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to be put in touch with a reporter. Full names must be provided.
“You (white people) can’t begin to imagine what we go through, but unless you live with black people and see it yourself, it’s only what you see and hear from everybody else,” he said. “Educate yourself. Don’t say, ‘Black lives matter, but … ’ You’re defeating the whole purpose.”
If one thing could arise from all the protests and rallies, Reid said he hopes for everyone to see the bigger picture, which is Christ.
He recommends people read the parable of the lost sheep, found in the book of Luke, chapter 15, in the Bible.
“If we put him (Christ) first, everything else will fall into place,” Reid said. “My message to the Christians is: Everybody knows everybody’s life is important. But the thing is, what we’re trying to share is that all lives can’t matter until black lives matter.”
For those who have expressed concern about protesters tearing apart brick and mortar businesses, he assures them the damaged property can easily be replaced. However, black lives like Floyd and Trayvon Martin cannot be replaced.
While protesting in Gainesville, Reid said he saw a white guy and a couple of his friends saying, “if you can say, ‘I can’t breathe,’ then you can breathe.
“When Jesus was dying on the cross, he was having a conversation before he took his last breath,” Reid said. “If you do come out here to protest, please be out here for the right reasons. Yes, we were protesting this weekend for George Floyd, but this whole movement is for Black Lives Matter.”