COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In stark contrast to the destruction of public property and heavy law enforcement seen last Saturday, peace, prayer, and perseverance filled the streets of Columbia as protests continued in the capital city for the eighth day.
For many, Saturday was the first day they were able to attend the now daily protests outside the State House. These protests began in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died in police custody after an office kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis.
Morgan Whitelo is an African-American teenager who attended these protests for the first time Saturday, she said it was upsetting that she felt a need to protest at all.
“It’s hard to know that I have to come out here and say that I want equal rights for people who look like me,” said Whitelo. “When we came out here I asked my Mom, ‘what do you wear to a protest,” I shouldn’t have to know what to wear to a protest. You shouldn’t have to go outside to a protest for something so basic. It’s human rights.”
Whitelo said she came out today to speak out against systems she fears will one day lead to the death of ones she loves. She said she lives with the fear that someone close to her can be the next name a community mourns.
"It’s horrible to think that one day [my Mom] might not even be able to come home. Someone can shoot her in her car or someone can pull her over and she won’t come back…and it doesn’t matter who she is or what she’s done, but she’s just a Black woman in a car day and one day someone can be pulled her over and someone can kill her,” Whitelo said.
While there have been no official organizations behind many of the protests at the Statehouse over the past week, on Facebook some activists encouraged their peers to take time off Saturday to have a chance to recharge and rest.
However, still, about 100 people showed up under the hot Carolina sun to demand an end to police brutality, calling for law enforcement to change procedures surrounding body cameras and use of force, an overhaul of the criminal justice system, and an end to racism within government agencies, among other desired changes.
The crowd remained diverse with protestors of all ages, backgrounds, races, and sexual orientations in attendance. Joi Jamison also attended for the first time and drove up from Orangeburg to make it to the Statehouse. She wanted to be a part of what she said was a diverse and global movement.
“This is a moment in history we have never had so many people join us like this,” Jamison said.
She said it was important for her to stand up and fight for what she says should already be the norm in the country.
“We matter, we are humans too, especially Black men and Black women it’s not color versus color it’s human rights,” Jamison said.