HOLMDEL, NJ: Thursday, June 11th was a mix of intermittent rain and harsh thunderstorms, but that did not slow 150+ peaceful protesters from gathering at Holmdel High School at 3pm, to march in the name of George Floyd, and others whose lives were taken. The event was organized by students, led by Mikayla Houston, 17 and Paige Singer, 15, both students at Holmdel High School.
George Floyd's life was tragically and brutally ended at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, choking him. The heinous gasping death of Floyd was caught on film. The nonchalant way Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd's neck as Floyd begged for his life, saying, 'I can't breathe', is seared into the memory of millions around the world, causing outrage across the nation.
At 3pm, the thunder paused in the sky and began on the pavement as the crowd started the Black Lives Matter rally, marching from Holmdel High School towards Town Hall. Many signs were held high giving messages of peace, love and stop the violence. Involved in the logistical planning with Holmdel Township, Holmdel's Finest showed support for the rally, joining in the march while on duty to serve and protect. Many of them took a knee with the group for George Floyd. The crowd chanted, "No violence, no hate, no violence, no hate..." Watch video below.
VIDEO CLIP OF MARCH TO TOWN HALL:
Students, and families marched together to Holmdel Town hall. Jennifer Burden, a Holmdel mom participating in the march with her children, commented to TAPinto, "The movement to end racism is a social justice issue that my family finds important and wants to be a part of. The Black Lives Matter rally, here, in our town of Holmdel, was a great conduit to further our conversations with our kids on the topic of race, and it provided an opportunity, as parents, to model the positive behavior for them on the importance of standing up for those who need it most.”
After marching to Town Hall, the participants gathered to hear a couple speeches, mainly focused on peace and solidarity. Spreading the message of love and peace, the one speaker commented, "Don't let your friends say the N word just because it's in a song...racism is not a new trend...it is up to us, the people breathing this air...to fight the fight..." At one point in the speech, the Holmdel Police were acknowledged and referenced as the people 'who work for us and protect us'...watch below.
VIDEO of speaker at Holmdel BLM March:
The march by all accounts was successful. Co-Leader for the event Mikalya Houston commented, "This event was such an amazing turn out that I am speechless. I am very proud of those in my community that actually participated because it shows that they understand that what the world is going through not only today but for decades is a major issue. I am so glad that I was able to share my story and hear others stories and experiences, it is extremely important for people to hear all of these powerful speeches, because I feel it's a wake up call that my town definitely needed. It was an amazing turn out and experience and stay tuned, because we are only getting started!"
Co-leader, Paige Singer commented, "It was amazing to see so many people come together in a predominantly white town, to support a movement promoting racial equality and justice. We had a great turnout and I hope after this rally more people will be inspired to educate themselves on this topic and find ways to continue these efforts!"
Mikayla's mom Nicole Houston, is white and she grew up in Holmdel. Now with her husband Mel, a black man, they are raising their daughters in Holmdel. Nicole commented to TAPinto, "I am so proud of our daughter Mikayla and her friends for organizing this rally. Mel and I would like to thank the Holmdel community for coming together to support Mikayla and Paige’s initiative and more personally, our family. We both truly appreciate it. We feel largely accepted here, for which we are so grateful, but as with everything else in life, there are always exceptions. We hope that this rally, as well as other movements that have been lifted up in our community recently, continue to educate and spread awareness of a worldwide systemic problem that does exist here as well."