PHOTOS: Unity Rules Tuscaloosa’s Peaceful Racial Justice Rally
Hundreds donned masks and braved high heat Sunday afternoon to join the Tuscaloosa Peaceful Racial Justice Rally outside the Federal Building & Courthouse in the Druid City's downtown district.
Unity ruled the day, as protestors of all races and backgrounds heard speeches, marched around the building and held a moment of silence in memory of George Floyd, the black man killed during his arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota earlier this month, as well as for dozens of other African Americans whose lives have been cut short in recent years.
The Tuscaloosa Police Department had a noticeable presence at the protest and blocked several streets to allow the protests to march safely. Chief Brent Blankley, who was sworn in to lead the department earlier this year, was on-site to offer participants bottles of cold water.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox was also in attendance Sunday and joined marchers for a lap around the courthouse amid chants of Floyd's name, and Ahmaud Abrery's, and Breonna Taylor's.
The protest was organized by Sarah Cheshire and Nicole Dugat, two white women who said they wanted to show solidarity with protestors all over the country in the wake of Floyd's killing.
The gathering kicked off with a prayer from Hollis Thomas, the pastor of Tuscaloosa's Rock City Church, and the reading of a poem by University of Alabama alumna Andrea Dobynes, whose ode to her future son moved some demonstrators to tears.
After two trips around the courthouse, pastor Tyshawn Gardener led those gathered in a moment of silence before Hollis addressed the crowd one final time, urging them to not let their activism and passion fade after a single march, but to instead speak up until the messages of justice and racial unity are truly heard around America.
After an hour of protesting, the demonstrators dispersed without incident.