George Floyd rally in Windsor draws hundreds for peaceful protest
WINDSOR, ONT. -- What started as a small walk in solidarity with protests across the U.S. following the death of George Floyd, grew into a hundreds-strong march in Windsor.
On a bright Sunday afternoon, the Coalition for Justice, Unity and Equity organized the Walk for Justice in honour of Floyd, who died earlier this week after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly 10 minutes in a botched arrest and was seen around the world in a cell phone video. Those joining the walk in Windsor also protested the continued violence against black people at the hands of police.
“There’s no where to go with the pain. We have little kids in our organizations that are asking us questions about what happened because that video was everywhere,” said Joi Hurst, the organizer of the walk. “This type of thing – it’s fellowship.”
The Windsor rally saw people walk from the foot of Ouellette Avenue all the way to the Ambassador Bridge and back, holding signs that read ‘black lives matter’ and ‘end racism.’
“The police [officer] with his hands in his pocket like it’s just another day at the park and doing what he did, that was just too much,” said Tony Anderson, one of the hundreds that attended the rally.
Anderson’s voice catches as he recounts his feelings of seeing the now ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin press his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck as Floyd pleaded for breath and called for his mother.
Anderson says even in Canada, being black can feel like rolling the dice.
“With our son, like every time he would go out as a teenager we would worry about, ‘would he be okay,’” said Anderson. “I worry about when I go out, will I be okay.”
Chants of “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace, prosecute the police” echoed throughout the roughly two-hour rally.
Hurst says in Windsor, the police service has been an important ally and partner for grassroots groups like hers. She says the service reached out to be part of the event and wanted to maintain a minimal presence.
“They called us, that’s what our city is all about,” said Hurst.
Brenee Ouellette attended the rally and shared her frustration at the images of violence and racial tensions coming out of the U.S. But, Brenee bristles at the notion racism is solely an American problem.
“It’s global,” said Ouellette. “There’s been enough public violence against us and no justice and that’s where I think the anger and violence are coming from. It’s just a level of frustration when nothing’s being done.”
There were no reported arrests or altercations with police as a result of the rally.