Two events in response to the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis last week, will be held in Southold Town Wednesday.
Southold native Kenny Black is organizing a peaceful protest against police brutality at Jean Cochran Park in Peconic. The group is expected to gather around 2 p.m. and march toward Southold police headquarters.
“No riots no looting no violence,” Mr. Black wrote in a Facebook post Monday. “We want justice and we want peace … It’s time we challenge ourselves and fellow members of the North Fork to pick a stance in this fight for equality.”
In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Black, 27, said he was inspired to lead a local event after attending a similar peaceful event in Riverhead over the weekend. That protest was spearheaded in part by Anubia Exum, an 18-year-old student from Riverhead.
“It hit me hard to see someone with so much passion and fire behind her lead all of those people, some that she may not even know,” Mr. Black said. “It felt like i was lit on fire and I should be doing the same thing for the people in my community where I grew up.”
Later Wednesday, a candlelight vigil for Mr. Floyd will be held at 6 p.m. at Clinton Memorial A.M.E Zion Church on Third Street in Greenport Village. Mr. Black said he changed the time of his event, originally planned for 5 p.m., to show solidarity. “That way, we can all together, as a community, be heard,” he said.
The Rev. Natalie Wimberly, who is organizing the vigil, said Tuesday that she hopes the vigil will bring the community together to acknowledge and stand with the family of Mr. Floyd — and countless others who have experienced similar tragedies. “Enough is enough,” she said. “I’m tired of having to see this play out on TV over and over and over again. We shouldn’t be here in 2020. These issues should have been long resolved.”
According to a poster for the event, social distancing will be observed, with spacing out on both sides of Third Street between Broad and Webb streets. All in attendance must wear masks at both of Wednesday’s events.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said Tuesday that he understands the anger in response to Mr. Floyd’s killing and hopes the demonstration will remain peaceful. “Demonstrations are not new to Southold and are part of our inherent right to free speech,” he said. “Let us not dismiss the outrage, anger and frustration, let’s listen and try to improve ourselves and to also to join in condemning injustice.”
Mr. Russell added during his tenure as supervisor, he’s required all town employees to participate in cultural literacy programs that recur every few years. “We all must be sensitive to the fact that we are all part of one community and that everyone should be shown the respect and dignity that they deserve,” he said.
Rev. Wimberly said she hopes attendees come away with a greater awareness. “I hope we come away motivated and realize that we are connected to each other by virtue of our humanity,” she said.