Different generations of black men in Charlottesville discuss racial equity

Charlottesville race conversation

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The death of George Floyd continues to spark outrage about the systemic injustices Black people face. Now, people in Charlottesville are discussing issues of racial violence in the city.

Mr. Alex-Zan says violence against African Americans, especially in Charlottesville, is not new. He recalls an instance in July 1975.

“The altercation started when supposedly a teenager at that time broke into a house on Wertland Street. Police came and according to the teen was roughed up by the police. We as a community came together to support the young man," Alex-Zan said.

That same night he ended up in the predominately black Westhaven community in Charlottesville where he says police attacked innocent people.

“They pepper sprayed the entire complex of Westhaven. Then, some of the police officers went down on Page Street and actually pulled people off of their front porch," Alex-Zan said.

Now, people continue to march across the country and the world to protest racism, bigotry and police brutality. For some, marching is not enough.

“We can start by defunding the police. We can start by looking at some activities that we have police locked into that they really shouldn’t be [doing], such as in our school systems,”activist Don Gathers said.

Gathers remembers the riots in 1992 after the Rodney King beating. He says this moment feels different.

“Now you don’t just have pockets of resistance. This has spread not only throughout the country, but all across the world," he said.

Ja’Mel Reed, a fourth-year student at the University of Virginia, says that resistance must continue.

“It can’t just trend for a week. It has to keep trending and it has to keep being on people’s feeds like until change actually occurs," Reed said.

Reed remembers being a child and protesting the death of Trayvon Martin. He hopes future generations will not endure the same burden.

“I want them to grow up in a world that loves them for who they are and their skin color and that’s all I can ask really from all the stuff that’s going on right now," Reed said.

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