Protests sparked across the country in the aftermath of the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minnesota. From California to New York, thousands protested police brutality. As part of The Issue, Inside Edition Digital journalists attended demonstrations held in New York to ask people why they attended. There were a plethora of answers, but everyone was united in their stance that Black Lives Matter.
"Why Not Be Here?"
Asked why she was attending a protest, Lesley Howard replied, "Why am I here? Why not be here? This is important. Black lives matter." New Rochelle, New York, on June 3, 2020.
"Everybody Is Coming Together for Justice"
Daniel, who asked that his last name not be used, sat outside to watch the protest. “I just can’t walk like that because I am handicapped,” he said. “Everybody is coming together for justice.” Brooklyn, New York, on June 3, 2020.
"We Deeply Believe in the Cause"
Denise Smith said she attended to protest the death of "George Floyd and those who have died from police brutality," adding, "We deeply believe in the cause." Richard Smith said, "We're angry, it's … too much has gone on, too much blood has been spilled. We have to do something. We have to do something." New Rochelle, New York, on June 3, 2020.
"Black Lives Matter"
Shawnta Smith (right) said the three of them were there to support their "New Rochelle community." Bria Smith (center), agreed and Kim Bartolomucci (left) added that they were "one community together." New Rochelle, New York, on June 3, 2020.
"To Do the Little I Can"
Janna Chuckumerje said he grew up in New Rochelle, and was there "to do the little I can." Shannon Wodiska said she was there to support Janna and "everybody" at the rally. New Rochelle, New York, on June 3, 2020.
"The Asian Community Has a History of Participating in White Violence"
Christine Yen: “I feel the Asian community has a history of participating in white violence against Black people and I want to show that Asian people are in solidarity Black people,” she said. “We are all people from America and we all deserve the same treatment in society.” Brooklyn, New York, on June 3, 2020.
"We’re Out Here on Purpose"
Stella Johnson and Jennifer Lord were marching the protest together. Johnson, who is a teacher, said she was seeing a lot of negative media reports about protests and wanted to encourage her students to look at the news with a “critical eye.” She also wanted to feel empowered by highlighting a different narrative.
“It’s important right now that we feel that we have a purpose. We’re out here on purpose to fulfill that human need that we know that we all feel right now," Johnson said. Lord added, “It really warms our heart. We are active and we felt like we needed to do something. I have been donating. I have been petitioning, posting, but this felt true to who I am. I needed to actually get out and walk and be among that energy and that vibe. Ultimately, we want to end racism and systematic oppression.” Brooklyn, New York, on June 3, 2020.
"Our Priorities Are Completely Wrong"
Miles Martin and his friend attended the protest because they both agreed that America hasn’t seen the change that is “clearly needed.” “Our priorities are completely wrong, we are investing more and more into policing and not communities. I think it’s amazing, hopeful and uplifting that around the country people are coming out to express that we all recognize this.” Brooklyn, New York, on June 3, 2020.
"Not as Accepted as White People"
Jorim Motley said he attended the protest, because he's learned he's "not as accepted as white people" over the course of his life. "I'm here to try and change that." New Rochelle, New York, on June 3, 2020.
“I Have Lived Through Every Black Leader Being Murdered"
Jerry Eastman: “I have lived through every Black leader being murdered: Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer - I’ve seen them all and I must admit, somewhere around maybe five years ago, I became totally numb, but this particular one [George Floyd], for me to watch that brother die the way he died, that messed me up.” Brooklyn, New York, on June 3, 2020.
"Supporting Black Lives Matter"
Jailynn Velez and Ethel Rivera, both nurses, said they were at the protest to support Black Lives Matter. New Rochelle, New York, on June 3, 2020.
Pam Fleming stepped out with her trumpet to play while protesters marched because she believes "music heals.” “We have to support this anyway we can and I don’t know what else I can do. I am a trumpet player, I got to play.” Brooklyn, New York, on June 3, 2020.
"I Realize This Is Part of History"
Gary Springer was demonstrating with other Black men at the protest and said he came because he wants to make a difference. “I realize this is a part of history and I want to be a part of history with my people so anyway I can - if it’s me using my voice, using my body, any way I can help my community - that’s what I feel like I need to be doing,” he said. “My generation needs to understand that we need to come out here headfirst and not just sit back and be behind the phone. We need to be on the front line.” Brooklyn, New York, on June 3, 2020.
“I’m Utilizing My White Privilege ..."
David Herman said he attended a diverse school and saw the discrimination and oppression experienced by classmates who were not white. “I’m utilizing my white privilege to amplify their voices.” New Rochelle, New York, on June 3, 2020.
"The Least I Can Do Is Put My Body in These Streets"
Samuel Amare said he attended the protest because he was raised in Brooklyn. “These are actually my people, but I also came to show love and respect to the life of Breonna Taylor. So many days we see Black lives easily taken and their bodies are taken from them, especially Black women, so as a Black man, I just want to do my part to show respect to her life. Breonna Taylor and so many other Black women, and so many other trans Black women are consistently murdered and the least I can do is put my body in these streets to show respect.” Brooklyn, New York, on June 3, 2020.
"My Struggle Is Their Struggle"
Melissa Ortiz said, “I am here to support my Black people. We are all minorities. My struggle is their struggle. There needs to be justice for Breonna Taylor, for Eric Garner, for everyone that has been killed and all of them that continue to be killed.” Brooklyn, New York, on June 3, 2020.