The Black Students of Gainesville will be making their voices heard with a peaceful protest this Monday afternoon. The purpose of the gathering is to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as to honor the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other victims of police brutality and systemic racism.
The organization, comprised of black students at local universities, will be meeting at 2 Dog Restaurant at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, and will march peacefully to the Gainesville Square at 3:30 p.m.
“We decided that this is a time where in Gainesville we need to try to change the dynamics of racism and injustice,” said Alexus Cooper, a Brenau student and member of Black Students of Gainesville who helped organize the march. “We decided to protest so that our voices can be heard about these topics.”
The protest will feature a small collection of speakers, including Brenau president Anne Skleder. It will also include an African drum circle performance and a moment of silence lasting 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck during the incident that led to Floyd’s death.
Cooper also said that the Black Students of Gainesville would have signs and protective face masks to hand out to protesters who do not have their own.
Cooper said the protest is long overdue, and that the patterns of systemic racism observed in the Gainesville community by her and other members of the Black Students of Gainesville need to be changed.
“It’s important for us to organize this event because the dynamics of Gainesville are a little bit racist in terms of our experiences,” she said. “We want to feel like we are putting a change in our place of home. It starts at home. If we don’t focus how we feel into changing the dynamic, then it will never happen. So we have to make sure we’re doing our part within the entire movement and try to bring change as much as we can.”