WAYNESBORO, Va. (WVIR) - On Tuesday, which marked one year since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, Floyd’s name rang through Virginia streets once again as community members called for his legacy to continue.
As with so many days of this past year, there were lots of emotions at a Black Lives Matter march held in Waynesboro. There was pain and reflection. There was also relief that Floyd’s killing brought a conviction, and frustration that there are others who have never seen justice.
All of that culminated in a march that started and ended at Constitution Park and went throughout downtown.
Dozens of people chanted and marched as they walked across Waynesboro with a message.
“They need to see us,” said Kayla Ross, an organizer. “They need to hear us.”
They were loud, until the end. That’s when the marchers gathered to speak, and then stay silent as they knelt for nine minutes. Organizers said: if you want to kneel on the grass, it may be more comfortable. A protester responded: the concrete is where George Floyd’s head was. And the kneel continued.
The march was just the beginning of the action that organizers wanted to see.
Malika Muse is a mother whose biggest fear is something happening to one of her children - children who have asked her tough questions for the past year.
“The one question that they often ask is why,” she said. “Why are things this way?”
The answer to that, she says, is systemic.
That’s why Kayla Ross is encouraging everyone, especially young people, to take steps toward solutions.
“They’re so quick to pull out their phones and to videotape, and it’s unfortunate but they can’t always jump in,” she said. “They can’t always help. But there are other things. They need to go to our city council meetings.”
While political action is a goal, conversations will surely continue.
“I think it’s imperative for them to understand that it’s possible that it can happen,” Ross said. “I think it’s imperative for them to know that not every officer is their enemy, and in the midst of it, we have to, unfortunately, teach them precautions.”
Policy reforms called for by speakers at the march included body cameras for all area police departments and more oversight boards.