Community, Latest News, News

Peaceful protest unites community

“None of us are safe until everyone is safe.”

That’s a sentiment expressed by Tracy Brady, who was one of hundreds of participants at a peaceful protest supporting Black Lives Matter, held Saturday outside of the WVU Mountainlair.

Saturday’s action caps a week of activism in Morgantown that saw protesters regularly gather in front of the Monongalia County Courthouse on High Street, sometimes shutting down the road.

Eric Malcolm and Rhiannon Smith were at the Mountainlair with Brady to be a part of history and stand for the intention that everyone deserves to be safe, as well as to end, what they said is, “the abuse of power.”

The crowd left the Mountainlair Green at about 4:45 p.m., marching down High Street. The route led protesters in front of most of the city’s civic establishments.

Down Spruce Street past city hall, then down Walnut Street to pass the downtown police precinct, the congregation chanted “Say his name: George Floyd.” As they looped over University Avenue to make their way up Pleasant Street, the walls of Morgantown echoed their cries of, “Black Lives Matter!”

The final turn, back up High Street, led protesters in front of the courthouse as they chanted “No Justice, No Peace.”

In addition to a march, music and dancing were a part of Saturday’s gathering. Many local artists performed before and after the march. Throughout the proceedings, popular songs played and attendants were encouraged to dance with organizers. At various points, the crowd was led in dances such as “The Wobble” and wedding mainstay, “The Electric Slide.”

Additionally, booths were set up around the field. One offered information on the ACLU, another offered free food and water, and a third was for residents eligible to register to vote, which was encouraged by speaker Samantha Norris.

“It’s important to know that Black Lives Matter is for the people,” Norris said. “It’s about making sure that everyone, finally, after [243] years of this country existing, is equal.”

Norris also gave each black woman in attendance a flower to wear, which, she said, represented sisterhood.

Michael Ibrahim, director of the School of Music at WVU, said music has an influence on everyone, and the roots behind the music people listen to goes deeper than what the ears can hear.

“When anyone listens to music, there’s a near 100% chance that the music that they’re listening to is inspired or rooted in black music and, or, black culture … that’s obviously an important [factor] to remember during these times,” Ibrahim said.

Lamar Riddick, an area Christian hip-hop artist, was one of the artists who performed. Riddick said his personal mission is to be a light of the Lord and show love through his music.

“It’s important that my message gets out through my music. [Music] is just one of the universal ways how humans communicate,” he said. “When there’s music, there’s harmony. Music helps to create the unity we’re looking for.”

Riddick said that the issues going on in America go much deeper than flesh color.

“The issue that’s going on right now is more than a skin problem, it’s a sin problem. It’s hatred in people’s hearts,” Riddick said. “The temporary fix is the unity events and the marches that [are] in place to prompt the change. The true change is in the heart, and that’s what Jesus has come
to renew.”

With additional reporting by Chris Schulz