MIAMI (WSVN) - A large group of protesters congregated in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood to march for racial equality and police reform throughout the city.
7Skyforce HD hovered over the protesters along Northwest Second Avenue between 23rd and 25th streets, Friday afternoon.
“Today is Breonna Taylor’s birthday, so especially commemorating her 27th birthday, or what would have been her 27th birthday, is incredibly important to us, especially as young black women,” Paige Bryan said. “We don’t want to be able to experience what she’s gone through. We want to be able to protect ourselves for our younger siblings and also for everyone else around the world who is a black woman.”
By 8 p.m., protesters made their way onto the northbound lanes of Interstate 95, between Interstate 195 and Interstate 395, causing all lanes to shut down. While on the interstate, protesters chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” while kneeling with their arms raised on the roadway.
“That happened without any incident,” City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said. “We were able to stop traffic. No cars were damaged. There were no altercations. Everything was done safely. They came in. They came out.”
To protect demonstrators, Florida Highway Patrol troopers erected barricades and fencing across the interstate’s lanes.
The highway in the area reopened about an hour later. However, by 9:30 p.m., I-95 between U.S. 1 and I-195 was closed, as the protesters moved further south. That section of highway has reopened as of 10 p.m.
The protest began at Panther Coffee, one of the first locally-owned businesses in Wynwood and stretched from the business into the middle of the street and across to the eastern side of Second Avenue.
“I’m just sick of seeing it,” Kayla Bryan said. “I have cousins and family members and best friends and friends, and this is more than just a hashtag. People really need to do something about it.”
When the group began marching, they walked to 29th Street and turned eastbound on that street. Before making the turn, 7News cameras captured numerous protesters kneeling on the roadway chanting, which they do every few minutes to spread their message.
“I mean, this is fundamental to who we are as people, to our community,” Jack Vertovec said. “If everybody’s not safe, our community’s not safe, either. We really have to change this. We have to make changes. Me, as a white person, I have to make sacrifices. We all do. Let’s try to help our brothers and sisters.”
Protesters then turned northbound onto North Miami Avenue approaching the Shops at Midtown.
FHP, Miami-Dade Police and City of Miami Police shut down Interstate 195 at the Biscayne Boulevard exit ramp due to large crowds of protesters. Aerial footage showed a line of troopers preventing the protesters from walking onto the interstate.
The protesters then walked back down the exit ramp and towards Northwest 36th Street.
The demonstration began with around 30 to 40 people, and it grew to over 100.
“I feel like because of how many people are so angry, things are going to change,” Giselle Sanchez said. “It means standing for equality and justice for black people and all the years that they haven’t had it. Things are going to change, and we’re not going to stop.”
Protest organizers could also be heard on the megaphone speaking about the need for police reform and the need for change. Their calls were followed with a lot of chanting and cheering from attendees.
7News cameras captured an abundance of signs at the demonstration, which has remained peaceful.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Friday night that the curfew for the county has been moved up to 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. until further notice.
“I just want people to know that we will be enforcing the curfew like we did on Sunday,” Suarez said. “We were able to do it very peacefully. People respected it.”
There were no arrests as a result of Friday’s protests.
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