Call for Change Amid George Floyd Protests in Arlington

June 3, 2020

 

More than 100 people knelt before City Hall Tuesday afternoon in Arlington.

 

The diverse crowd gathered at 3 p.m. to protest police brutality following the death of George Floyd, a black man killed in Minneapolis last month after a white officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes despite Floyd’s words “I can’t breathe.”

 

While on one knee, Tiara Lewis, 22, a University of Texas at Arlington graduate, said she was there to show solidarity and to support her people.

 

“We want change,” she said. “Every voice counts.”

 

 

 

As temperatures stretched into the 90s, a mother held the hand of her young son while making their way with the growing crowd to the police station located at the corner of Cooper and Division streets. Police officers on motorcycles were there blocking traffic to ensure everyone’s safety.

 

 

 

While the crowd marched, they chanted “Say his name George Floyd,”; “I can’t breathe,” and “This whole damn system is guilty as hell,” among other statements. Others held up signs reading “No Justice No Peace” and “Police the Police.”

 

 

 

 

Although Arlington has no police oversight committee, City Councilwoman Victoria Farrar-Myers wrote in an email that “the APD is ultimately overseen by the people through their elected officials of the City Council.”

 

The City has several new councilmembers including District 5 councilman Ignacio Nunez and District 8 councilwoman Barbara Odom- Wesley, neither of whom are opposed to police oversight, they said.

 

Nunez also says he’s learned a lot about how the city works during his time on the council. Among his observations are “APD is a leader in this country when it comes to race relations and is very transparent.”

 

Odom-Wesley wrote in an email that she believes Floyd’s death has “ripped the scab off the festering sore of racism.”

 

“I am working with my Council colleagues, the Mayor and city staff to address the root causes including police inappropriate use of force,” she wrote. “We hope to convene a Unity Council that will study the issues and recommend action steps.”

 

In the meantime, protesters continue to march around the world.

 

As they marched past UTA on Tuesday, several protesters thanked officers standing near street barricades.

“Stay hydrated,” one officer said as groups of people paused beneath shade trees sharing snacks and bottled water. As they continued down Center Street, several residents emerged from their home offering those who marched plastic cups filled with water. Upon returning to City Hall, the protesters were encouraged to vote for change.

 

Another peaceful protest happened Monday in Arlington before looters and vandals became involved smashing glass at a local Wal-Mart and defacing property at the police station, according to reports on social media.

 

Arlington’s mayor, Jeff Williams, issued a written statement saying that he plans to “be a force for good and answer the call to create real change.”

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Karen Burgess Gavis
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