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A call for justice and a demand for change at Black Futures Matter rally in Fort Lauderdale

Sun Sentinel logoSun Sentinel 9/27/2020 By Susannah Bryan, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Anger and rage over the police killing of Breonna Taylor have sparked demands for justice across the country.

On Sunday, protesters hit the streets in Fort Lauderdale, with plans to march from a neighborhood park to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

Taylor, a Black emergency medical worker, was shot and killed in her own home on March 13 when three Louisville police officers opened fire while delivering a “no-knock” search warrant. None of the officers have been charged in her death, sparking nationwide protests. Some are vowing to continue the protests until the officers are charged in Taylor’s death.

On Sept. 23, one officer — who has already been fired — was charged with wanton endangerment for firing into a neighboring apartment.

In Fort Lauderdale, protesters held signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” “Breonna’s Life Matters” and “Defund the Police.” They also chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “Black Futures Matter.”

Lenisha Gibson, 27, a community organizer from Fort Lauderdale, said the goal of the event was to help the Black community heal from their experiences with police brutality and the disproportionate way COVID-19 has impacted people of color.

“We’ve been dealing with a lot of trauma over the past few months, seeing how police brutality has been happening, and it’s culminated into this opportunity to come together,” Gibson said. “We definitely believe in defunding the police and investing in social programs that are going to be beneficial to people in our communities.”

Gibson joined more than 50 members of Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, Broward Dream Defenders, 32BJ SEIU, Broward Democratic Socialists of America and other organizations gathered at Joseph C. Carter Park at noon Sunday.

Protests over the past few days in cities across the U.S. were in direct response to last week’s grand jury decision in Louisville to charge only one of the officers involved in the Taylor raid. The wanton endangerment charge the officer faces pertains not to Taylor’s death, but to recklessly firing shots into an apartment adjacent to Taylor’s during the raid.

Black Lives Matter protests have gripped the nation since the killing of George Floyd in May.

Among the speakers at Sunday’s protest was Tequila Waters, whose son Damain Martin died at 16 after being chased into a canal by police in Sunrise. The circumstances of his death remain disputed.

Protesters lambasted Gov. Ron DeSantis' recent proposal to require harsh penalties for people who attend protests where others engage in violence or damage property. Critics of the proposal called it an attempt to discourage and penalize peaceful protesters.

“Ron DeSantis recently put out something else trying to go against individuals' first amendment rights, trying to stop people from protesting, and we’re against that. We’re out here in the streets organizing and mobilizing to be ready for the legislative session,” Gibson said.

Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward and Families Against Police Brutality organized Sunday’s march. They plan to march from John C. Carter Park at 1450 West Sunrise Blvd. to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department at 1300 West Broward Blvd.

They advertised the march on Facebook with the words: “No justice, no peace!”

Here’s part of the post: “We are coming together to say that not only do Black Lives Matter, but that Black Futures Matter. We are coming together to mourn those lost to police brutality and a violent system. We are coming together to dream of a new future. In the last week alone, the governor of Florida has proposed legislation to limit our rights to free speech, to assemble, and to protest. If passed, Florida would have some of the strictest anti-protest laws in the country. Over 200,000 people, disproportionately Black and brown people, have died from Covid-19. And then, the state of Kentucky refused to even charge anyone in the murder of Breonna Taylor. The only charges were for the bullets that missed her. Join us this Sunday, September 27, at John C. Carter Park to honor and mourn those we’ve lost. And then we will march for our future.”

Susannah Bryan can be reached at sbryan@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4554 or on Twitter @Susannah_Bryan

Austen Erblat can be reached at aerblat@sunsentinel.com, 954-599-8709 or on Twitter @AustenErblat

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©2020 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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