‘I’m black... but I’m not a danger’: Local NFL player joins hundreds of marchers in Florence

‘I’m black... but I’m not a danger’: Local NFL player joins hundreds of marchers in Florence

FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) – Hundreds of people marched Wednesday afternoon through Florence to protest the death of George Floyd.

The demonstration started outside the Judicial Center on N. Irby Street and then protesters marched over the Martin Luther King Jr. bridge. During that moment, the crowd stayed silent as a way to honor the civil rights activist.

Then once the marchers crossed over the bridge, right before they headed into the downtown area, the protesters knelt down on one and had a moment of silence.

Members of the Florence Police Department and Florence County Sheriff’s Office walked with protesters and talked with them.

Among those in the crowd was Darius Leonard, who was the 2018 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year for the Indianapolis Colts. He spends part of the year in Indianapolis but right now he’s back home in Lakeview and decided to take part in the march.

“Being able to use my platform to show that I will not be quiet no matter how big my platform is,” Leonard said about why he was taking part in the protest.

He told WMBF News that even though he’s an NFL player, that doesn’t make him immune to racism.

“I walk around Indianapolis and people ask me what I’m doing in their neighborhood. If I’m riding around in my old school car, people ask me if I’m a drug dealer,” Leonard said.

He said those experiences made him want to come out and support the peaceful protest in Florence.

“I want to show that I’m here supporting because racial injustice is real and it has to come to an end, but we can’t do it by ourselves, we need the whole world,” Leonard added.

He also said despite being a celebrity, he still shares plenty of similiarities with his fellow protesters.

“I’m black, I’m proud, but I’m not a danger. I’m a nice guy,” Leonard said.

Florence police said there is another march planned for noon Thursday that will go from Gaillard Street to the city center.

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