Blacksburg rally held in response to George Floyd’s death
Protests sparked by the
have spread right here to our region. A group of about 50 people came together Friday in Blacksburg because they said black lives matter and it’s time their voices are heard.
“It’s just physically showing up and having your signs and showing the community that, hey, they’re here, we’re here,” said participant Emily Woods.
Woods is a recent Virginia Tech grad who has a boyfriend who is black.
“I feel like we need to show up for them and sort of be their voice if they’re not really going to be a huge voice in Blacksburg, then we have to sort of be their voice for them,” Woods said.
Woods joined dozens of others at Blacksburg’s Wong Park. They gathered there to make signs before taking their frustrations to the streets.
“No justice, no peace,” and “I can’t breathe,” were just some of the chants that could be heard as the group made its way to Main Street.
“I walk outside without peace, I can’t get around without wondering if today will be my last day on earth,” said Essence Henderson, a student at Virginia Tech. “I can’t even have an opinion without being seen as threatened or hostile.”
Henderson said she also worries about her brother.
“As a black woman who has a black brother and a black family, this really hits home. We scream these chants like black lives matter, but black people matter, black kids matter,” Henderson said.
As the crowd weaved in and out of traffic along Main Street, Blacksburg and Virginia Tech Police officers held off traffic.
“It’s really scary, I feel scared for them sometimes,” Woods said. “I feel like that’s the main reason why I’m here is to help my friends, be there for them and try to make a change.”
“Say his name, George Floyd,” the group chanted outside of the municipal building before going to their final stop in front of police headquarters.
“It’s a constant anxiety, it’s a constant fear,” Henderson said. “It’s not as deep as someone standing on my chest but that’s what it feels like every day.”
“We’re all in this together and we’re not going to stand down,” said Omar Alkhairo, the organizer of the protest. “Our voice is the most important thing we have and however I can use it is how I’m going to use it and I’m going to do my best to use it.”
Some of the people who attended Blacksburg’s rally said they plan to be part of Roanoke’s rally at Washington Park starting at 3 p.m. Saturday
They said the system can’t be fixed overnight, but they want folks to know just how serious this is to them.