1,000 Thomians March to Support Black Lives Matter

Marchers protesting police brutality and the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police pass through Charlotte Amalie. (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
Marchers protesting police brutality and the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police pass through Charlotte Amalie. (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
A protester holds up a sign Saturday that reads 'My Blackness Not A Threat, It's a Promise." (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
A protester holds up a sign Saturday that reads ‘My Blackness Not A Threat, It’s a Promise.” (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)

About 1,000 St. Thomians walked from the First Bank on the Waterfront to Roosevelt Park Saturday as part of a Black Lives Matter protest and memorial organized by Anjali James and Brigitte Berry.

The organizers said the event’s purpose was “to stand in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters in the USA. We are speaking out against racially motivated crimes and hate against African American communities. More importantly, in our local community, we need to remain united in our quest to reclaim our beautiful peaceful island and demonstrate a repudiation of the senseless gun violence and homicides within our community.”

After George Floyd died in police custody when Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes, pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck while the man lost consciousness. Since that Monday, May 25, demonstrations and protests have broken out around the world decrying police brutality and the continued taking of black lives by police around the United States.

Saturday’s event on St Thomas began at At 9 a.m. as participants observed a 9-minute silence, so protesters could realize just how long Chauvin was on George Floyd’s neck.

Anjail James gets ready to speak to protesters on the Waterfront on Saturday Morning  (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
Anjail James gets ready to speak to protesters on the Waterfront on Saturday Morning  (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)

James then read the names of the 22 victims of gun violence in the territory so far this year – Ray Thomas, Ferdinand N Marshall, Gyasi Chiverton, Jahlil Ward, Carlos Ingles, Endry Montero Bacili, Mikal Dore, Jahkim E.Santiago, Malik Graham, Malcom Francis, Luis Perez, Deshaune Harrigan, Michael Mckie, Junior Akimo Freeman, Shaq’kil Roberts, Bertstand Gilkes, Jamal Jacobs Jahkerby Charles, Elon Frett, Mendel Felix, Selena Chitolie and Terrance Leroy James.

James said the V.I. community needs to address gun violence.

“Let’s stop the gun violence and also be grateful we don’t experience the police brutality and the killings that our brothers and sisters on the mainland are” James said. “We really appreciate living to not live in a community where we have to be in fear.”

Protesters then marched the route to Roosevelt Park as chants of “No Justice, No Peace” and “Black Lives Matter,” among others, could be heard throughout the crowd as cars and trucks passing by honked loudly to show support.

In Roosevelt Park, A protester holds up a sign referencing Queen Mary, one of the leaders of the Fireburn protest of 1878. (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
In Roosevelt Park, A protester holds up a sign referencing Queen Mary, one of the leaders of the Fireburn protest of 1878. (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)

At the park, the group lead by the organizers continued to chant and sang “We Shall Overcome.”

After the event James said she was happily surprised by the turnout.

“Almost too much,” she said. “I didn’t expect this kind of response, just incredible, the fact of everyone coming together on all our islands for a good cause.”

Berry applauded James for the effort

“She’s only 20. I can’t remember the last time I worked with somebody on something and being so on the same page,” Berry said. “Being able to help with this is an honor. ”

James said Saturday’s rally was just the first step.

“This isn’t just all noise and no action, we definitely have a plan, this isn’t the end and there is more to come,” she said. James said she wants to work with senators on a youth coalition. Berry wants to continue to work on youth apprenticeship programs, adding, “We want more of a change for our Virgin Islanders.”

Black Live Matters/George Floyd events also took place Friday on St Croix and Saturday on St. John.

Sen. Janelle K Sarauw joins protesters at Roosevelt Park. (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
Sen. Janelle K Sarauw joins protesters at Roosevelt Park. (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
UVI President David Hall attends the March and holds up a sign that reads "Black Lives Matter." (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
UVI President David Hall attends the March and holds up a sign that reads “Black Lives Matter.” (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
A protester holds up a sign declaring "Indifference is Evil." (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
A protester holds up a sign declaring “Indifference is Evil.” (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
A moko jumbie holds up a sign reading “time 4 change and justice” while another protesters wonders if his grandchildren would be the next victim of violence. (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
A moko jumbie holds up a sign reading “time 4 change and justice” while another protesters wonders if his grandchildren would be the next victim of violence. (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
A sign reads “The revolution will be FB Live” a reference to the amount of viral videos about the protest worldwide and a play on the 1960s Black Panther slogan, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
A sign reads “The revolution will be FB Live” a reference to the amount of viral videos about the protest worldwide and a play on the 1960s Black Panther slogan, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
One protester showcases black-owned busisnesses on St. Thomas. (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
One protester showcases black-owned busisnesses on St. Thomas. (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
A sign references a viral video in which George Floyd's daughter says., “Daddy changed the world." (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
A sign references a viral video in which George Floyd’s daughter says., “Daddy changed the world.” (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
A protesterin police riot gear asks “Who Police the Police? (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)
A protesterin police riot gear asks “Who Police the Police? (Source photo by Kyle Murphy)