Over the weekend, residents in the two communities of Cleveland and Coldspring took to the streets and city squares to demand justice for the death of George Floyd, the Houston native who died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes as he reportedly said to them, “I can’t breathe.”
Since Floyd’s tragic death, protests all across the United States have sprung up with people demanding police reform, particularly in regards to the way that police interact with persons of color. Some of the protests have turned violent with rioting and looting, but in Cleveland and Coldspring, the leaders of the protests called for justice, peace and a return to Christian principles that value every life regardless of color.
“I can’t talk about justice without talking about Jesus. How he was wrongfully mistreated, abused, scorned, talked about, spit on, whipped, crucified all because of who he was and is today,” said Lynn Brown during the protest in Cleveland. “I didn’t know George Floyd but pictures and videos show he was wrongfully mistreated, abused and is now being talked about after being murdered.”
Brown said that rioting, fighting and burning down police departments is not the correct response for Floyd’s death.
“Going down on our knees, coming together like this in a peaceful way will get God’s attention to answer our pleas, our prayers for justice,” she said. “Yes, injustice makes you angry, mad with your heart filled with rage, but give all of that to God. He can handle it better than we can.”
The Cleveland protest of roughly 100 people was joined by Mayor Richard Boyett, Councilman Danny Lee, Councilwoman Marilyn Clay and Cleveland Police Chief Darrel Broussard, who walked with the protestors from Wiley Park to City Hall.
Cleveland Police Chief Darrel Broussard said it was great seeing the community standing in unity to seek justice.
“Officers must treat people with equal justice at all times. There is no room in law enforcement and communities for police brutality and excessive force,” he said, adding that the events that took place in Minnesota impacts all Americans, even as far away as Texas.
In Coldspring on Saturday, a protest began at church. Held at Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church on FM 222, the 60 or so people who gathered were encouraged by members of clergy to pray for the community. They also were told they should shun violent protests and make a change in their own communities by getting involved in elections, city and school board meetings, and local events.
“I was 15 years old when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. I made a promise to myself then, realizing what was going on in this world. They may have killed the man but they didn’t kill the dream,” said Bishop Horton. “I vowed to continue his dream. Today, I stand for what’s right. This has always been my motto. Any man who is afraid to lose his life fighting for what he believes in is already dead. Let us stand for the right thing.”
Horton said pastors cannot preach against hatred inside the church and allow hatred to dictate people’s lives outside the church.
“Let us be standing on the right thing. The Bible says when we have done all we can do, we must stand. We need to learn that. I believe in standing for what I believe is right,” he said. “Let me tell you something, when there is no justice for all, then there is no justice for anybody.”
After the gathering at the church, the crowd, mostly people of color, moved on to the San Jacinto County Courthouse where they were met by a group of people – all white – singing hymns and praying on the courthouse lawn. As they approached, they were greeted with hugs and handshakes, and were asked to participate in leading prayers.
MORE EVENTS PLANNED
Liberty County Democratic Chair Michael Mark announced on Saturday that the Liberty County Democratic Party, in conjunction with Liberty County Indivisible, will hold a Black Lives Matter march to protest Floyd’s death and other black Americans killed while in police custody.
The event will be held on Saturday, June 13, at 6 p.m. at the City of Liberty’s Daniel Pavilion at 1829 Sam Houston Ave., Liberty. The march will start at the pavilion, continue to Main St., around the courthouse square and back to the pavilion for a candlelight vigil.
Democratic nominee for the United States House of Representatives, District 36 – Rashad Lewis – will also be present to speak.
On Tuesday, a small protest is planned for Dayton. Protestors are expected to gather at The Crossroads, located on US 90 near city hall, for a couple of hours.
Anyone is welcome to attend either event.