Video: Cassandra Sherrill/Winston-Salem Journal

About 300 protesters marched through downtown Winston-Salem on Friday, renewing their call for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other black victims of police violence.

Friday's protest was the seventh day of demonstrations in Winston-Salem, following a pattern of peaceful events.

A diverse group of protesters walked 3½ miles on such roads as West Fifth, Trade, Broad, West Fourth and Marshall streets. As they marched,  many carried signs such as "Black Lives Matter," "White Silence is Violence" and "Racism is a Pandemic."

Most demonstrators wore masks amid the nation's novel coronavirus pandemic. Traffic was blocked by Winston-Salem police officers to keep the protesters safe during the march.

The community group Winston4Peace helped organize the Black Lives Matter protest.

During their rally, demonstrators loudly chanted slogans such as "Get your knees off my neck," "I can't breathe" and "Say his name, George Floyd. Say her name, Breonna Taylor."

Floyd, 46, who lived in Minneapolis, died May 25 when a police officer pressed his knee against his neck for nearly nine minutes. That now-fired officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder, among other offenses, and three other police officers at the scene, who also were fired, have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Taylor, 26, and her boyfriend were in bed in Louisville, Ky., when three armed police detectives knocked down their front door three months ago. Gunfire erupted, killing Taylor, a black woman.

Protesters stopped and knelt at the intersection of Fourth and Spruce streets. Kennadi McCoy, a march organizer and a native of Columbus, Ohio, led the demonstrators in a moment of silence for the victims of police violence in the United States.

When the protesters reached the intersection of Fourth and Spring streets, they knelt again to honor Taylor who would have turned 27 on Friday. 

The protesters then sang the song, "Happy Birthday" in Taylor's memory.

The demonstrators then turned right onto Broad Street and eventually stopped and knelt at the intersection of Broad and Fifth streets. 

Calvin Peña, a local march organizer, told the protesters they were unifying the local community with their effort.

McCoy, who lives in Winston-Salem, told the protesters that she was pleased they were staging a peaceful event.

"We can make this happen and not tear down our communities," McCoy said. "If you are a spectator, this is not the place for you. If you are not a person of color, stand with us."

McCoy told the demonstrators that they should be angry.

"The reason that you are out here is because you are ready for change," McCoy said. 

The demonstrations then walked east on Fifth Street with protesters loudly chanting, "Black lives matter" and "No justice, no peace — no racist police."

Protesters paused, knelt and eventually sat in the intersection of Fifth and Marshall streets.

Austin Hicks of Winston-Salem urged his fellow demonstrators to vote and elect candidates who stand for justice.

"You have more power in your fingers than any other generation," Hicks said. "You have to use it."

After the demonstration ended in front of the Benton Convention Center, Nicole Shadley of Winston-Salem said she participated in the event because, "I'm tired of seeing my black friends abused."

Christina Eaton of Winston-Salem said she marched to end racism.

"I think it's unfair," Eaton said. "In my life, I have experienced extreme racism, and I have never gotten justice for it."

jhinton@wsjournal.com

336-727-7299

@jhintonWSJ

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