MOREHEAD A social media reach-out by three Morehead women to get 80 people to peacefully march in a Black Lives Matter demonstration blossomed into a 400-person event Saturday.
Autumn Dennis, Courtney Dillon and Kaitlyn Paschall used Facebook last week to see if they could organize the march through town to point out that their white privilege is unfair, but they could use it to promote changes to the local laws and attitudes towards race.
Dennis said the group just wanted to make sure local police protected all citizens and to see legislation passed by the local government concerning body cameras.
“The city council has shot down the idea of body cams for our police officers and we would like to get that passed,” Dennis said.
Dennis also told the crowd that white privilege needed to be dealt with.
“The realization that as white community members, we don’t have to worry about some of the things black community members worry about,” she said. “And that’s not fair.”
The pre-march speeches became an open mic for anyone who wanted to speak out about police brutality and violent events witnessed around the country that seemed evil to some.
Elder Peggy Overly, with the Bread of Life Ministries, told the crowd that “Satan needs a body to do his dirty work to kill, kill and destroy.”
She said she prayed that George Floyd’s death was a reminder to the country that people needed to get together. “That’s what God wanted me to tell you.”
Overly also said that the Morehead demonstration was beautiful because it joins demonstrations happening all over the world.
Led down Main Street by Kentucky State Police troopers and Morehead City Police, the marchers chanted “No, justice, no peace,” “I can’t breathe,” and voiced the names of blacks killed by police. The only tenuous encounter with they had was a small group, some armed, at the Rowan County Veterans Memorial at the old Rowan County Courthouse.
Mark Gilliam, a member of the veterans group looking after the war memorial said he was there just to make sure the memorial was kept safe.
“If it wasn’t for that, I’d probably be marching, too,” he said.
As some demonstrators laid down with their hands behind their backs, a couple of the armed men at the memorial brandished weapons and flipped off marchers. Gilliam said they were not part of his group.
By the end of the day, there were also two men openly carrying as they marched with the Black Lives Matter group.
State police troopers kept the two sides apart for the brief encounter.
Nationwide, violent protests came in the wake of a video showing George Floyd, a black man, dying while restrained by a white Minneapolis police officer. The officer was later charged with murder, along with three other officers at the scene.
Ahmaud Arbery, an African American, was killed while jogging through a Glynn County, Georgia neighborhood. Three white men have been charged with murder.
Breonna Taylor, an African American EMT, was killed by Louisville police during a no-knock raid on her home in March. Last week during a protest, Louisville police killed David McAtee, a black man who operated a BBQ stand popular with the department. No charges have been made in Louisville, but the mayor fired the police chief because officers failed to activate body cameras.
Dennis said another goal of the group is to remind the police department, “to see everyone as people. I’m pretty sure they do. We want to make sure.”