VINELAND, N.J. - Vineland residents channeled their ‘angry' and 'frustrated’ emotions over the death of George Floyd and held a ‘March for Peace’ for police and community members.
“We're fed up, we’re tired, we’re angry, we’re sad, we’re frustrated,” said Chris Wilson, co-organizer of the Vineland protest.
The images of the protests and looting have further divided groups of people who view the world differently. Even so, there has been a slow shift in more protestors focusing on how to peacefully and productively bring everyone together, as seen during Wednesday's march in Vineland.
“One of our focuses is we are stronger together, so if we show solidarity with our police force it gives the community the vibe that they know and understand the plight that we’re going through, the anguish that we’re going through,” said Wilson.
Passionate voices rang through the community as the crowd chanted ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and, ‘No justice, no peace!’
Contrary to recent events, a major difference in this protest was the crowd’s willingness to communicate with the police. Instead of talking about what police are doing, people spoke to and marched with them.
“The community needs to know that we are also part of the community, it's not just them it’s us together,”said Vineland Chief Pedro Casiano.
Millville Chief Jody Farabella continued, ”We’re here to listen and to hear your voice, and we’re all in this together.”
As they walked the commercial strip of glass businesses, demonstrators made it very clear that they would not tolerate looting, but that expressing themselves is very necessary during this time. Elected officials and police were standing by and listening.
All participants recognized that marching together is not the same thing as being together, but it’s better than standing on opposite sides of riot gear.
“Hopefully our young people will step up to the area of saying ‘I can’t do it with violence, I have to do it by having a seat at the table.’” Pastor James Dunkins of Shiloh Baptist Church said.
After more than 60 years of protests for the rights of African-Americans in the U.S., many are now wondering if these protests will make a difference at all. Opinions have led to one conclusion: only time will tell. With that, communications between N.J. officers and participants was a big step in the right direction.
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