TROY, Ala. (WDHN/Tropolitan) — It started with one student before social media brought a crowd to Troy’s downtown square to protest against police brutality.
Student Taylor Lolley went viral on social media after photos of him standing alone on a street corner, bearing signs saying “He could not breathe. Can you?” spread online.
The protest was in response to the death of George Floyd — who died after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin pinned the unarmed and handcuffed Floyd to ground by kneeling on his neck. Officers restrained Floyd after police say he resisted arrest in a forgery case.
“Please, I can’t breathe,” Floyd told officers.
Court records state that one officer, Thomas Lane, asked if they should roll Floyd on his side, but Chauvin insisted on keeping Floyd as he was, holding his knee on Floyd’s neck three minutes after he stopped moving and talking. Another officer checked his pulse and could not find one, and Floyd was declared dead at a nearby hospital later on.
Chauvin now faces charges for third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Following Lolley’s example, other protesters lined Troy’s downtown square with signs of their own calling for justice for Floyd and an end to discrimination to racial discrimination, especially in police brutality cases.
“I’m out here to support the cause,” protester Ebony Williams said to Tropolian Editor-in-Chief Emma Daniel as she reported live from the scene. “The young man (Taylor), he was doing a very good job. I’m also out here for George Floyd. I feel as though we should all be affected by this. It doesn’t matter what race you are.”
Another protester said this matter goes beyond George Floyd, naming other black Americans who are believed to be victims of deadly racial bias.
“Let’s go back to Ahmaud Arbery,” Shajuana Jackson said. “Let’s go back to the other young lady that got killed, Breonna Taylor, okay? It didn’t start with him so I want to speak for everybody that lost their souls, just not only him. … I think we should come together at a time like this because we need it.”
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the protesters lined Three Notch Street while chanting “No justice, no peace” and “What’s his name? George Floyd!” Meanwhile, the sounds of cars honking filled the air in response to their “Honk for Justice” signs.
According to Daniel, the protesters will return to protest at the same time Saturday and possibly Sunday.
As for the protest’s founder, Lolley is using the new publicity to raise funds for low-income children in Pike County.
“Many people have asked me if they could buy me food or donate money or if they could help in general and I have decided that the best way to go about this is to set up this campaign and to donate 100% of the proceeds to a local organization dedicated to helping out local children,” he wrote on his GoFundMe. “If you are going to donate money donate it to your local community, not a white guy in college.”
A link to the fundraiser can be found here.
Troy University’s Tropolitan contributed to this piece. To read their article, which has a different angle on this situation, follow this link.