Protesters march, kneel in Dania Beach to end police brutality, systemic oppression

DANIA BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Protesters marched through parts of Dania Beach before ending up at city hall to protest systemic oppression and to end police brutality.

The group of demonstrators gathered in front of city hall, at 100 W. Dania Beach Blvd., Thursday afternoon. The Broward County chapter of Hear Our Voice Florida organized the protest.

“We have out here Black Lives Matter, the organization, and we have also the commissioner of Dania Beach that backed us up, and we’re grateful for that, but the fight doesn’t end here,” an organizer said. “We have to get out and vote, and we’ll continue to have many protests in the future and many events because this has to end. We need to see justice in the George Floyd case. The police have been arrested, all four of them, but now we need to see convictions. We need to see sentencing, and until that happens, until we get justice for Breonna Taylor and all of the ones lost, we will continue to shout and to demand and use our voice.”

Among the group was Dania Beach Commissioner Tamara James.

“We are not here to start a race war,” James said. “We are here to end the race war. We are here to end the killings of our black men and black women.”

Outside of city hall, the large group of protesters knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time a former Minneapolis Police officer held his knee on the neck of George Floyd.

“There’s so many other than George Floyd,” a protest organizer said. “George Floyd is popular right now because it was seen by millions, all America, but we’re here for all of the lives that were lost injustly by police brutality, racial vices and systemic racism. We’re here so our voice can be heard because it needs to end. We cannot have another George Floyd. We cannot have another Philando Castile. We can’t have another Breonna Taylor. It has to stop.”

After kneeling for two minutes, organizers said to the crowd, “It’s only been two minutes. We want you to understand the magnitude of what those eight minutes means.”

“We spoke with the mayor. We let her know that it is a major concern,” an organizer said. “One of our demands is to defund police, put it into youth programs, aftercare programs, education, mental health facilities. There’s so many things that we can use our tax dollars for other than the police killing our own people.”

“I want you to contact me and give me everything that you want,” Dania Beach Mayor Lori Lewellen said. “I’m bringing that to the right people, so that this way, we can make sure it gets put into law.”

“Well, how long? Because that’s all we have been hearing,” a protester answered. “‘We’re going to do. We’re going to do,’ but y’all ain’t did nothing! And we won’t be silenced!”

The protest began at C.W. Thomas Park before the group marched their way through several streets with Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies alongside keeping traffic away from the group.

Organizers said they are demonstrating because they want to peacefully disrupt the norm because their lives have been disrupted.

“Everyone across the world is marching, and I thought that me being a part would definitely help the vision of what we’re trying to accomplish,” John, a protester, said. “I believe that this is going to continue until we see change. They’re going to keep marching. They’re going to keep striving until we see change.”

The protest has wrapped up, and demonstrators hope Thursday’s efforts marks the beginning for change to happen.

“I cannot imagine a knee going into my neck for eight minutes while I am protesting and saying that I cannot breathe,” James said. “It’s forcing conversation. It’s bringing out people who are racist. It is bringing out and showing the true colors that people have in their hearts, but more than everything, it is uniting people.”

Demonstrators added that people are listening and law enforcement agencies are listening to the pleas from the public for change.

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