Hundreds of people peacefully marched through the streets of downtown Morgantown on Tuesday calling for justice and equality for people of color following the deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police.
A sea of people — young, old, some families with kids — gathered in front of the Morgantown courthouse beginning around 10 a.m. to protest police brutality and violence.
Millions across America have taken to the streets following the deaths of unarmed black people including George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville. Floyd died last week while a Minneappolis police officer held him down with a knee on his neck. In March, police killed Taylor while executing a search warrant unannounced.
The Morgantown protest began with five minutes of silence. Participants were asked to take a knee for police brutality and to honor the lives that had been lost.
“That’s not nearly the time that it took George Floyd to die,” Morgantown rally co-organizer Sammantha Norris told the gathered crowd. “It’s not nearly the time it’s taken other people to die from police brutality. It’s not nearly close to the 400 years of oppression in this country against black people.”
Norris said the peaceful gathering was an important show of solidarity with communities of color.
“This is for every single black person who doesn’t feel at home in America because this is our home and we want to make it feel like home,” she said.
Protest organizers stressed this was a peaceful event and urged participants to wear masks to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus. The majority of the crowd appeared to follow that guidance. Water and snacks were also distributed.
The protesters repeatedly snaked their way through the downtown business district chanting things like “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace.” Police at the scene remained largely in their vehicles and provided an escort for the marchers.
The Morgantown protest follows other recent events across West Virginia. In Charleston over the weekend, a couple hundred people gathered in front of the state capital. In Wheeling, a peaceful protest took place in front of the city building on Sunday. Meanwhile in the Eastern Panhandle, Martinsburg police are investigating after someone fired shots during a protest Sunday. No one was injured.
Gov. Jim Justice on Monday urged protests to remain peaceful and nonviolent.