Column: Southland demonstration was about justice and peace

The Southland shopping center in Pleasant Hills was the site of today’s George Floyd peaceful protest.

Cassie Snyder, Magazine Editor

Magazine Editor Cassie Snyder went on her own, as a participant, to today’s George Floyd peaceful protest at Southland shopping center. She later shared this column.

Earlier this week when social media posts started promoting a demonstration for today at Southland shopping center in Pleasant Hills, close to my home, I decided it was important to attend and show support.

While some posts about this event promoted it as a demonstration or more of a vigil for George Floyd, others were promoting it as a protest. As soon as the word “protest” got attached to this event, some people assumed violence would come with it.

Places of business all around the radius of where the demonstration would take place were closing for the day and boarding up their windows. 

The Jefferson and Pleasant Hills police were there. They might have expected violence from us, or felt like they had to be prepared for it, but that is not what we were there for.

I missed the early part of the event, but my friends said it started with participants standing in a circle in the parking lot near LA Fitness. There were speakers and a short prayer, my friends said. 

The large group then moved to the side of the shopping center facing Route 51. We waved our signs, screamed “Black Lives Matter,” and said the names of the black people whose lives have been taken by police brutality.

The familiar phrase “no justice, no peace” was changed to “we want justice and peace,” to show the intent to have a completely peaceful demonstration.

Most cars passing by would honk or wave in support. Some would honk to get attention and boo or scream foul language. The crowd would respond in the same way. 

On the whole, though, I was surrounded with nothing but love and support today — support for the black community and each other. 

I was brought to tears and felt moved by the power I felt, surrounded by such strong individuals. I was met by friends and was happy to see so many people I knew come out to participate in something this important. 

We all knew there were some risks involved in coming today, but we also knew what had to be done.

All of our voices were heard today and we will continue to voice them until we achieve justice and peace.