Hundreds gathered in downtown Morgantown on Tuesday to peacefully protest police brutality and demand change in the treatment of African American people around the country. 

“I’m here today to stand with my black brothers and sisters in protest of black people dying,” said Visakha Turner of Moundsville. “It’s unjust and empowering to see that there are so many people that showed up today.” 

The day began with protestors kneeling in front of the Monongalia County Courthouse for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the same amount of time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd on May 25. Floyd suffered grave injuries while in police custody. 

State Delegate Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia, spoke to the crowd at the beginning of the protest, conveying her support.

“I came out here to support my community,” Walker said. “I came out here to support black people. I came out here to make sure that our allies were seen and known. I came out here to make sure that everyone understands [that] until black lives matter, how dare you say all lives matter. I came here today to take a knee, because it’s not always acceptable. I came here today for peace, for vigil, for honor.” 

Protestors then began walking up High Street chanting phrases such as, “No justice, no peace, no racist police,” “Black lives matter” and “This is what democracy looks like,” as well as the name of Floyd.

Morgantown police officers blocked off some nearby roads and directed traffic as protestors walked up High Street, past the Morgantown Municipal Building and down by the Morgantown Police Department. 

Cars honked in support and protestors cheered as they drove past. 

“Once we all come together and we’re all united, a change can really happen,” said Hawa Diawara of Morgantown. “Although this is a small place, a small community in Morgantown, there are so many people here who really want change and really want things to be reformed.” 

Diawara said that black people in America are suffering, are being killed and are being stripped of their pride and power. 

“We are the next generation that are going to be leading the other generation into a better place and so we need to put our differences aside, look past what we see in front of us and just come together as human beings and that’s the best that we can do right now,” Diawara said. “Vote, because your vote matters and this is a time to do that right now.” 

Sammantha Norris, organizer of the protest, said that the protests around the country and the mass solidarity of the American people right now is what the country needs for real change to happen. 

“I want to see police reform,” Norris said. “I want to see internal affairs abolished. I want to see police officers have to have licensing and have to carry casualty insurance. I want the federal department of justice and the FBI to be in charge of investigating police officers, not the police. 

“I want people to get out there and vote, to attend city council meetings, to be present in the community and make sure their voices are being heard.” 

Morgantown police declined to comment about the protest. 

De’eryk Gordon of California said that everyone is tired of what’s happening to African Americans in the country, that people are done being silent and are now demanding change. 

“I just want justice,” Gordon said. “I’m tired of people being judged because of the color of their skin and not by the content of their character. I think that it’s time that we need to put aside this race war that’s been going on for so long and it’s time for us to stand together as a people, because it ain’t just blacks and whites it’s all of us together as a people to fight this and the only way we can fight this is together. 

“We have to stop the injustice that is going on, because if it continues, this will continue.” 

Later in the day, protestors kneeled in solidarity for Floyd and all other African Americans unjustly killed. 

“This is something like Morgantown has never experienced,” Walker said. “These are the trendsetters, these are the changers, these are the movers. This is how you make change. This is history. This is the moment that each and every one of us needs. 

“This is the moment that each and every one of us will see. These are the moments that we should exalt for Black History Month. These are the moments that should be in our history books. These are the moments that we don't have to say we shall overcome, because we are here.” 

“We’re saying enough is enough,” Diawara said. “We are here, we are present and enough is enough.”