ASHLAND, Va. (WRIC) — The Town of Ashland held a peaceful protest Wednesday in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee and many others. Demonstrators took a knee during a moment of silence and then marched from the Ashland Town Hall to the police station and back.
The Ashland Police Department helped organize the event. Chief of Police Doug Goodman said it was important they marched alongside residents so Ashland knows their police force is by their side.
“We wanted to make sure that our community knew that we stood with them for proper and ethical policing,” said Goodman.
Chief Goodman said in his 27 years of law enforcement, no training has ever taught him to put a knee onto someone’s neck, especially for an extended period of time. He said watching the video of Floyd’s death was disturbing.
“It was hard to watch that video, the entire thing, and in fact, several times I had to turn away,” Goodman told 8News.
M. Randell Williams is the Senior Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Ashland. He said what we’re seeing across American is built up anger.
“I make an analogy of being in an argument with someone and instead of striking them, like punching the wall. The wall isn’t the one who did what it was to you, but the wall was a bystander to the issue,” said Williams.
He also speaks from a personal perspective as a black man adding, “Now you see what we’ve been talking about.”
Among the diverse crowd were high school students. Many said they marched to seek equality, including 15-year-old Jules Guthrie.
“I think now is a time for us to all focus on the issue at hand which is black people are being are being treated unfairly and police brutality is bad in our country,” Guthrie said.
Jay Engle was front and center during the protest, even leading chants. She said she has had to fight for her own LGBTQ rights and it’s sad others still aren’t getting their rights because of their race.
“The racial injustice I’ve been seeing online is really aggravating,” said Engle.
As outrage continues to spill across the country, many protestors in Ashland say they are glad they were able to get their message across peacefully.