“Black lives matter.” Those were the words hundreds of protesters chanted throughout the streets of downtown Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.
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As protests and riots emerged all over the country after a white police officer killed George Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis, Broward County residents from all walks of life congregated at Huizenga Park to make their voices heard.
The protest was organized by the Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, Broward Democratic Socialists of America, and Broward Dream Defenders.
Protesters peacefully marched from Huizenga Plaza to the City of Fort Lauderdale Police Department. Participants held up signs and started chants supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and criticizing police brutality.
“The things that are going on nationally [are] a local issue as well, and police violence is a public health crisis. It’s an epidemic,” Tifanny Burks, the community organizer of Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, said. “We’re done. We’re completely done sitting around and not doing anything about it, so that’s why we’re here today.”
Burks says in the past, the group demanded police departments have de-escalation and implicit bias training. However, those efforts were unsuccessful, and now the organizers hope to defund police departments.
Ashley Gomez, 23, was one of the many protesters in attendance.
“I’m here because black lives matter, black trans lives matter, black children matter, black people matter, and our system does not believe that,” Gomez said as crowds of people chanted, “Back up, back up, we want freedom, freedom.”
Mateo Salas, 23, attended the protests with Gomez. He said he was infuriated about how black people have been mistreated in America for centuries.
“It’s time to make a change and this is that time,” Salas said. “It should’ve been done a long time ago, but we need to do it now.”
After the protest concluded and most attendees left, there was a disturbance between remaining protesters and police officers. The officers fired tear gas at the small crowd at about 7 p.m. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis issued a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. shortly after the conflict occurred.
#Broward County issued an Emergency Curfew Order in response to growing civil unrest that could potentially threaten the safety of those in Broward. The curfew is from 9pm Sunday night through 6am Monday, June 1st.
— Broward County Commission (@browardinfo) June 1, 2020