BUCKHANNON — In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the countless other black men and women murdered by police departments across the United States, communities nationwide are actively protesting and demanding justice to end racism. Locally, resident Amanda Vezinat has organized a support rally and candlelight vigil for George Floyd on Friday at 7:45 p.m. at Jawbone Park.
“I am doing this because I believe that black lives have to matter in order for all lives to matter. Until that happens, saying ‘All lives matter’ doesn't equate to much,” Vezinat said. “This is a chance for us to pull together as a community to show support for the black community in this country. They're hurting right now and when one of our communities is hurting, we need to come together to support, and in this case protect those that need us the most.”
The description on the Facebook page states, “This will be a candlelight vigil in support of Black Lives Matter and in solidarity with those demanding justice for the death of George Floyd and the many other black men and women being murdered.” Those who cannot physically attend or are hesitant to attend due to COVID-19 concerns, may participate by making signs and lighting a candle from their homes. Supporters are also encouraged to send in pictures of their participation from a distance.
Other demonstrations have shown up around town this week, from the Courthouse to the lot on the corner of Main Street and Locust Street. The gatherings were small but peaceful, sharing their love for the movement.
Timothy Canter, a 2006 Buckhannon-Upshur High School graduate, said he came down to a local gathering all the way from New York to show his support. “The goal today is to raise awareness. I grew up in this city as a queer male and I couldn’t tell you the value it would have had on me being a queer male to see a protest for my pride here,” Canter said. “I want everyone to know that they are represented, especially black people. Black people have been systematically oppressed for 400 years, since this country was founded, and enough’s enough, right? The rioting and the violence is happening because they’ve had enough. It’s not like just because they want to go steal something out of a store, it’s a point that’s being made. People need to listen. It’s time to listen. It’s time to be silent, because the silence is deafening.”
Canter further explained, “I’m from Manhattan and I came down here to make sure that my town did have a voice, because I love this town. I’ve been protected by the police in this town growing up here; I was very fortunate. I’ve also been protected by my white privilege, so now I’m going to use it all to get good work out of it… With all the COVID happening in the city [Manhattan], where was my voice best used? I am fortunate to have a network here and a community that supports me, so I’m going to make them turn out and actually support.”
Kaitlyn Gifford, an upcoming senior of B-UHS, also showed her support Tuesday. “For me, to be here is to show support for not only black people, but all the other minorities and sexual oriented people here. Dealing with racism as well, as a community, I feel like this peaceful protest would be the best way for me to have my voice heard because it’s time to make a difference. It’s time.”
Many cities across West Virginia have protested for the cause, with most reportedly proceeding in a peaceful manner. If you’d like to show your support, please come to Jawbone Park on Friday evening.