Hundreds March In Harrisonburg For Racial Justice

Jun 2, 2020

The peaceful crowd in Harrisonburg on Monday thrust signs -- and fists -- in the air. At far right is Maleke Jones
Credit Calvin Pynn

Harrisonburg demonstrators joined global protests over racial injustices in America with a silent march Monday night. WMRA’s Calvin Pynn reports.

As protesters began to show up in downtown Harrisonburg for Monday night’s silent march, around 300 gathered in front of the city’s public safety building for a prayer vigil led by Harrisonburg city councilman Chris Jones.

Harrisonburg City Councilman Chris Jones speaks to the crowd.
Credit Calvin Pynn

CHRIS JONES: It’s been a long hard 400 years, and our time has been filled with slavery of the worst kind known to man, the raping of women and children, the burning and lynching in public places, which made it so easier for that officer to do that to brother Floyd.

This was one of many ongoing protests after George Floyd’s death at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis sparked national outrage at police brutality and racism in America. More than 1,000 people gathered downtown, marching with fists and signs raised in the air.

The first half of the silent march stayed true to its name, but chanting erupted and echoed downtown as the crowd moved past city hall.

Silent protesters march downtown.
Credit Calvin Pynn

(sound of crowd chanting No Justice! No Peace!)

As they circled back around the Public Safety Building, their chants commemorated Floyd, as well as Breonna Taylor, who was killed in March by police in Louisville, Kentucky.

(Sound of crowd chanting Say his name! George Floyd!, and, Breonna Taylor!)

As the crowd returned to Liberty Park, speakers such as activist Johonna Turner concluded their demonstration.

With mask and bullhorn, protester Johonna Turner speaks to the crowd of around 300.
Credit Calvin Pynn

JOHONNA TURNER: I just want to remind us that our movement is global, it is intersectional, and it is visionary. And I just want to say that this movement, in defense of black lives - we don’t just bring our marching bodies, we bring our grieving hearts, we bring our resilient spirits.    

The march was relatively peaceful with minimal police involvement, and did not escalate into violence as other demonstrations have over the past few days. Local activist Maleke Jones, organized the protest and said to expect more like it in the future.

MALEKE JONES: I can just say there will be more. We can’t just do this one time and expect things to change. In order to get real change, we’re gonna have to keep on pushing, keep on demanding, so that’s our plan for the future.