TUPELO • Hundreds of people peacefully protested at Tupelo’s Fairpark on Saturday following the death of a black man who died while being taken into police custody in Minnesota.
The rally featured protesters standing at the park, waiving signs and chanting loudly for “justice and equality” for the death of George Floyd. Video captured a Minnesota police officer pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.
Floyd’s death sparked numerous protests across the U.S., including Saturday’s in Tupelo.
Mayor Jason Shelton allowed no counter protesters at the rally and no other activities to take place outside of the park.
People of all races and ages shared their stories at the rally.
“This is really like the 1960s in 3D right now,” one protester said. “This stuff has been going on, but everyone is just now getting to a place where we can see it. We’ve got to fight. Not with our fist, not by destroying things, but with our minds. We need initiative, we need programs, we need plans. We have to put pressure on the system – on the systematic racism that’s going on in this country.”
“To just see a man, not an animal, but a man being put down and treated like an animal with somebody’s knee on his neck is sad,” another protester said. “But they’re mad at Colin Kaepernick because he kneeled for something.”
Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis was in attendance at the rally and shared her thoughts on the recent death of Floyd.
“Back during the times, when I was in school, I participated in a sit-in,” Davis said. “They only way we can win and accomplish anything is to work together as a unit. I have put very much emphasis on this in the City of Tupelo and surrounding areas. We must work together. We must stand up for justice. George Floyd was treated wrong, and we all know he was. We witnessed it and something needs to be done about it.”
Protesters also spoke out against the recent comments of Petal Mayor Hal Marx, who tweeted Tuesday saying “saying he “didn’t see anything unreasonable.”
“If you can say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing. Most likely that man died of overdose or heart attack.” Marx’s comments continue to spark more protests across the state.
Shelton said his administration will have a joint meeting with Tupelo Outreach Task Force and Police Advisory Board along with city officials on Monday at 10 a.m. to discuss the city’s efforts to be proactive regarding concerns of excessive use of force and the steps the city can take to promote unity.