Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News
The streets of Charleston played host to a protest rally and march Sunday afternoon. The rally was one of many across the country that have come in response to the death of George Floyd, who died in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25. The incident has sparked worldwide protests against police violence.
The march in Charleston was peaceful, beginning just after noon in front of Old Main on Eastern’s campus. It proceeded to Morton Park and eventually to the Charleston Police Department and courthouse downtown. Approximately two hours after the march began, it ended back at Old Main.
The march stopped at both Morton Park and the courthouse for speeches by protesters and organizers, and also to rest in the shade.
The crowd grew to about 200 people at its peak. Siobhan Doherty began organizing the rally, and said that word spread through social media.
“I messaged a couple of my friends and thought that we should do something,” she said. “I made the graphic and put the Facebook event together. Then everyone else just took it from there. They shared it more than I possibly could have.”
Once the march began on its route, many cars driving by honked in support and waved out of their windows. Cars with signs and posters taped to the windows drove by multiple times throughout the march to voice their support.
Not all who drove by were supportive, however. Some people honked as the protesters crossed the street, frustrated that the roads were blocked. Others were more aggressive.
“There was one man in a truck who kept driving by very quickly and yelling ‘black lives don’t matter’ or ‘your lives don’t matter,’” Doherty said.
Another incident involved three motorcyclists in front of Old Main.
“They threatened to come back, and one of them actually did hit, not hard, but did make contact with one of the protesters,” she said.
Doherty said that both incidents were reported to the Charleston police, who before the march reached out to her and voiced their support, which she said she appreciated.
“Especially in times like this, it’s really important for police departments to not just be neutral, but to actually say that they support the justice we’re demanding,” she said.
Overall, much of the interactions with drivers and protesters were positive. On several occasions a Pizza Hut delivery truck driven by Bill Hobson stopped by to drop off free food for the protesters.
“We like to support our community,” Hobson said. “This is our community.”
Callie Luttman, who helped organize the rally with Doherty, led many of the chants during the march and was one of the speakers at Morton Park. She said she was pleased with the turnout and with how the rally went.
“Any representation for the black community is exactly what we need in this moment,” Luttman said. “I’m really thrilled that, not only did people come out today, but they risked their lives during a pandemic for the black community.”
Doherty said that she was proud that so many people showed up spoke up.
“I think that a lot of people go to have their voices heard and I think that the community definitely is being forced to acknowledge that there are people here who feel this way,” she said.
Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]