A congregation of approximately 400 peaceful protestors gathered at Hagen Park in Wilton Manors on Sunday in the blazing summer heat with handmade signs and began chanting spiritedly at 2 in the afternoon.
After a rising number of cases of police brutality and violence against Black and Brown people, Rico Wilson’s response was amalgamation of peace and understanding. Wilson is one of the founders of Rally for Remedy, a nonviolent demonstration created in order to secure a safe place to talk about solutions and to share stories.
“This was not to be presented as a march, a protest or a riot. It was a peaceful demonstration of what it could look like and feel like when we all come together and listen to each other,” Wilson said. “We made a statement and it planted a seed for change.”
There was an air of energy throughout the crowd when Rebecca Vaughns took the stage and began to speak with fervor and passion.
She touched on Rayshard Brooks' fatal shooting in Atlanta which occurred Friday at a Wendy’s drive-thru where a small altercation escalated quickly to Brooks being shot by an Atlanta police officer.
“We can’t stop fighting, the cycle continues,” she said. “Words are powerful, and what you think, manifests. So, the fact that we’ve been saying, No Justice, No Peace this entire time. With respect to No Justice, No Peace, this is why we’re getting No Justice and No Peace.”
Vaughns took a long pause and then ended with, “We need to change the narrative, moment by moment, day by day, voice by voice, hashtag by hashtag and that should be: Give us Justice, Return our Peace!”
The crowd roared.
Bullhorns bellowed deeply and the voices of hundreds of people chanting the names of the folks lost to police brutality and violence was deafening on the Drive.
John O. Buckley, Vice President and Program Director at Unity Coalition/Coalicion Unida was one of the speakers who took the stage.
“Yesterday was the first step towards change that needs to come about in Wilton Manors. I used my voice and will continue with positive actions towards that change, until that is the new normal.”
John O. Buckley
During the peaceful march, the attendees all kneeled for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in honor of George Floyd, an unarmed Black killed by a police officer on May 25 in Minneapolis.
Police officers arrested Floyd after a convenience store clerk called the police and told them that Floyd had purchased cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. After apprehending him one of the officers pinned Floyd against the pavement with his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Wilton Manors Commissioner Julie Carson was an attendee at the demonstration and marched north on Wilton Drive with hundreds of other demonstrators, she was extremely touched by the entire event and display.
“Gathered in common cause and solemn resolve to eradicate racism and end police violence against black and brown people, the young organizers orchestrated a move ‘Rally for the Remedy’ in Wilton Manors,” she later said. “From the bullhorn accompanied by a march down the Drive to dropping a knee on the hot pavement, I am purposefully reminded of our collective humanity.”
Wilson added, “We want to plan more peaceful protests but we wanted to see how the community would react to it. I love Wilton Manors and always want to see the city advance and lead in this universal movement for inclusiveness and diversity.”