Protestors speak out

Foreground from left, Stearion Williams, Natevia Hutcherson, Valerie Morgan and Cevelle King wave to passing cars as they take part in a peaceful protest about the death of George Floyd early Sunday night in downtown Paris.

A peaceful protest sparked by the death of George Floyd took place on the Henry County court square Sunday in downtown Paris.

About 30-40 people lined the intersection of North Market and East Wood streets early Sunday evening. Carrying signs like “I am the Mother of a Black Son,” “I can’t breathe” and “We will not be silenced,” the group waved and cheered at the honking cars that passed by, chanting “No justice — no peace.”

The protest, which was organized by Paris natives Natevia Hutcherson and Stearion Williams, began about 4 p.m. Hutcherson said they planned to remain in place “as long as we have traffic.”

“The police department here brought us cases of water; we’ve had people bring us food and snacks,” she said.

The protest had nothing to do with color, she said, noting the presence of blacks and whites in the crowd.

“This is unity,” said Valerie Morgan of Paris. “That’s what we want —that’s what we’re akin for, is equality for all people. Not just black, not just white. Everybody.”

Morgan said he knew many of the local officers from school.

“We all went to school together so we’re pretty much a close-knit community here,” he said. “But there’s not an equal balance when it comes to the justice system in Henry County. It’s the same thing that people are dealing with all across the United States. Especially for people of a different color, orientation or ethnicity.”

Cevelle King of McKenzie said his fiancee owns a downtown business here. King said he felt driven to come out after what he’d seen on television.

“Everyone is getting tired,” he said. “Not only black people are getting tired. White people and Mexicans are getting tired. We all want peace. And no one wants to wake up and see that on television — someone crying for their Mom right before they die.

“I’m an eight year Army veteran, two year Iraq War veteran, so I understand how laws work, but it’s unbalanced. There needs to be a better balance in the laws. Justice for all.”

Morgan said the group planned to return at 3 p.m. Monday, and welcomed people to join them. He stressed again that the demonstration was intended to be peaceful.

“If they don’t support what we do, don’t say anything, just keep on riding by, because we don’t want any problems,” he said.

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