Walks for Justice aim for change
The national wave of protests in the United States over the killing of George Floyd sparked a weekly Walk for Justice in early June on the island. Some residents of the Block Island community quickly came together and organized weekly walks to stand in solidarity with the movement. It is now September, and the walks continue in the community each week.
On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year old Black man, died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes as he lay face-down and handcuffed, repeatedly stating “I can’t breathe.” The global movement was also ignited in the aftermath of the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many other Black individuals who have died due to what many believe is the systemic racism and injustices against Black lives in the United States.
Since June, the peaceful Walks for Justice have commenced each Thursday, with the gatherings beginning at 6 p.m. on the Block Island Historical Society lawn, and ending around 6:20 p.m. Protestors are instructed to meet by the Block Island Historical Society, and directed to walk towards the Statue of Rebecca and then loop back towards the Historical Society. Many participants have held signs aloft in support of Black lives and the movement, as they walk down the streets of Old Harbor. It’s important to note, participants in the walks always wore masks and respected distance towards others.
The unnecessary deaths of Floyd, Arbery, and Taylor reveal deeper, systemic issues on how Black lives and bodies are viewed and treated in the United States. The community walks, which are one form of protesting and showing support, continue to shed light on this issue, in the hopes for progress, reform and necessary change for racial equality.