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Windsor protest draws dozens

Fifty-plus people had lined up near the edge of Windsor Boulevard by 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, holding up signs. Many of the signs called for justice for the late George Floyd. Others stated “Black Lives Matter” and “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

These posters were held up by teens, children and adults who came from Windsor, Smithfield, Zuni and Southampton County, among other localities.

Whenever passing cars and trucks honked their horns, or even a dog barked from a passenger window, the protesters cheered … and they cheered often.

Before the event began in the field next to the Windsor Police Station, Carla Duck and Sharon Bremby were waiting by their cars. Duck, who lives in Zuni, said she learned of the demonstration through the Windsor Police Department’s Facebook; Bremby heard about it from another person.

A graduate of Windsor High School, Duck said, “Windsor is a close-knit community. We pull together for all causes. It’s just the right thing to do.”

Bremby, a member of Chapel Grove UCC, added, “I believe it’s right … all lives matter.”

The organizer was Mawgana “Morgie” Lovett, who just graduated from Windsor High School earlier in the week.

“As a young white person in this generation, I feel the need to use my privilege to address such a big issue in our country,” she said. “I understand that white silence is compliance. I know that many of my peers wouldn’t have easily had the opportunity to speak on what they feel is right.”

Protests have swept the country following the death of Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 25. A police officer, Derek Chauvin, was shown in a bystander video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd called out at one point, “I can’t breathe!”

His death was later ruled by one autopsy to be a homicide. Chauvin was first formally charged with third-degree murder, which was later upgraded to second-degree. The three other officers at the scene are also charged.

“I felt the need to do something about it,” Lovett continued. “Equality and justice need to be shared with all and that’s not what is happening. I’m trying to take a stand and demand change one step at a time.

“We aren’t here to threaten or attack, but to educate people and open their eyes. Everyone in power now won’t be one day. We will have to lead the country at some point. I feel that this is very important.

“There’s a long history of racism and slavery in Isle of Wight. I hadn’t really intended to make big waves. People are just kind of freaking out, but not all protests turn out into riots.”

At about 3 p.m., some participants knelt on one knee, and some lay on the ground for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

“I want the people to get the message out. It’s not about me,” said Lovett.

Among those participants was Reggie Harvey, of Windsor, who had just learned about the demonstration Saturday morning from his sister.

Carrying his sign, “Being Black is Not a Crime,” Harvey said, “Racism is systemic oppression that’s engrained in this country. It’s the biggest sin and America has never repented. It shouldn’t take innocent lives [to make change].”

Debra Hicks and Alexis Carter represented God’s Anointed Touch Ministry in Windsor. “We’re here to support what’s going on in this area,” Hicks said. “It’s not about whites versus blacks. It’s about everybody versus racism. We were invited and wanted be vocal here in the area to share that it’s all about love, and to give strategies as to how this [racism] can be liquidated if people would just love. If the community would really come together and sit down together and strategize to help people to understand that racism is very deep … and the No. 1 thing we can do to help [fight] racism is to get these young people here registered to vote. That is the key thing.

“So we’re excited for the invitation. We will continue to do the work in the community and expressing God’s love. Because it was stated in the Bible that you have hope, faith and love, but the most essential one is that love. Prejudices are just so ugly, and when you think that because of who I am, and because I am different from another race, then what right do I have to say I’m superior? That’s terrible.”

She closed with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive hate. Only love can do that.”

Kay Boone, of Southampton County, brought her children to the event. They came, she said, “Because it’s important to show my children why equality is necessary.” Boone added that her children know the truth of what has happened between blacks and police brutality.

“We’re fighting for what’s right, and to be a part of change hopefully.”

Amanda McKinney of Zuni quoted famed civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

She added, “I’m a protester from way, way back. I used to be with PETA [an animal rights organization]. People have the right to demonstrate. Any lawful gun owner should be concerned about what happened to Breonna Taylor. It could have happened to any of us. It was a tragedy of errors.”

Taylor was a resident of Louisville, Ky., killed by city police on March 13. Officers had a warrant to seek out alleged illegal drugs in the home she was sharing with her boyfriend. The couple thought they were being burglarized, and gunfire was exchanged. Taylor was shot multiple times. In addition to the police chief resigning, the FBI is investigating the matter.

Naomi Watkins, of Smithfield, recently participated at a peaceful protest in Hampton, which she said was pretty nice.

“I want justice. I’m tired of not feeling equal,” said Watkins. “We want change … and not to be discriminated against.”

Asked why she was attending with her family from Smithfield, Kelli Conover said, “To try and bring hope. Why would I not be here? They are my brothers and sisters. We all bleed red,” she said, adding that the family also had been at a recent demonstration in Williamsburg. Pointing to her daughters nearby, she said “What kind of mother would I be if didn’t support them?”

WPD Chief R. Riddle said afterward, “Everything went very well, as I expected it would. The protesters were very well-behaved and respectful. The youth here in our community organized a peaceful demonstration, and I think it reflects well on them and our community.”