UPDATED — Spurred by the police killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, nearly 100 persons gathered at Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park Friday evening to rally for an end to hatred and racism.
Alabama Rally Against Injustice has coordinated another protest that began about 5 p.m. Saturday. Speeches from politicians and civil rights activists are set for the evening at Kelly Ingram Park. WBHM reports that protestors also have gathered at the Hoover City Hall to protest the November 2018 police shooting of Emantic Bradfor Jr. at the Riverchase Galleria, as well as the killing of George Floyd.
At Friday’s protest, Cedric Hatcher of Song Ministry, which stands for Saving Our Next Generation, said, “I want to bring awareness that this is not just a Minneapolis problem. It’s a Birmingham problem. It’s an Atlanta problem. It’s a New York problem. It’s a Detroit problem. It’s a California problem. It’s a Texas problem.
“It’s a problem all over the country,” Hatcher continued. “Am I my brother’s keeper or am I gonna keep killing my brother?”
Speeches and the release of black balloons were sandwiched between a pair of marches around the perimeter of the park. The racially mixed assembly chanted the name of George Floyd, the man who died during an arrest while a police officer kneeled on his neck. The officer has been fired and today was charged with third-degree murder.
Other chants included “I can’t breathe,” which Floyd said repeatedly before his death, and “No Justice No Peace.”
Protests are taking place in cities across the country in the wake of Floyd’s death, which was filmed by a bystander as it happened. In New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta, for instance, as well as Minneapolis, crowds gathered this afternoon and police have turned out in force to monitor or move the crowds.
While those marches have been peppered with more violent actions, no fires were being set or tear gas being shot into the crowd at Kelly Ingram Park.
Alim Thompson, a white Maryland native now living in Homewood, is part of White Birminghamians for Black Lives. It’s “not an organization,” he said, but a group that comes together to bear witness to the need for change.
The mostly retired man said whites must change for hatred to be erased.
“It’s not just hatred towards black people,” Thompson said. “White Europeans have just always had this, this, … racism, this idea that they’ve got to be better than everybody else.”
The Homewood resident said he’s excited and optimistic because, despite the events of this week, things are finally changing.
“God knows it’s overdue,” he said. “I think there’s more people waking up. Look at all these people out here with signs. We usually have 10 people on a Friday afternoon. We probably have close to 100 today.”