By WECT Staff | June 3, 2020 at 11:14 AM EDT – Updated June 3 at 5:12 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Wilmington Interim Police Chief Donny Williams and other area law enforcement leaders led a peace march Wednesday afternoon, June 3.
A large crowd gathered at the Wilmington Police Department headquarters Wednesday afternoon.
Representatives of the Wilmington Police Department, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and UNCW Police Department; the District Attorney, Mayor Bill Saffo, religious leaders and others were joined by members of the public to march peacefully along a half-mile route to the 1898 memorial.
Masks were worn by many and several people carried signs with messages like “Let him breathe #justiceforgeorge” and “I stand for humanity.” Some wore shirts bearing the words Black Lives Matter.
Marchers were asked to meet at 2:45 p.m. at the police department headquarters at 615 Bess Street. The march proceeded to the 1898 Memorial Park at 1074 N. 3rd Street.
At the Memorial Park, there were prayers by area clergy followed by remarks from Interim Police Chief Donny Williams and New Hanover County Sheriff, Ed McMahon.
Everyone spoke about unity, integrity, compassion and peace.
“Today’s march is about peace unity and honor. For 8 mins and 46 secs a Minneapolis employee kneeled on the neck of George Floyd. He drained the life out of this 46-year-old man. According to his family, George was a father, a brother and a friend to many,” said Williams. “Your participation…says you will treat everyone with integrity. And why? Because…the color of justice should never be about individual skin color, economic class, education, the uniform that one wears or about the neighborhood that one lives in. Justice may be colorless, unbiassed and accessible for everyone that seeks it. Law enforcement officers across this country must speak out and acknowledge that abusive and tortuous behavior…will not be tolerated in our agencies,” he added.
After honoring the fallen men and women of law enforcement at home and across the country, Williams thanked law enforcement partners and organizers who had worked together to manage the protests.
“We will not stand by silent and allow violent protestors to take over our streets or threaten the safety of our community. If you’re not coming to protest peacefully, I recommend strongly that you stay home,” he said and concluded, “We are a community; we are here to protect you.”
Sheriff McMahon said there were no words that he could ever say that would excuse what happened to Mr. Floyd. “We want to do better; we want to serve and protect all of you,” said McMahon.
McMahon then asked those gathered to join him in a prayer before the crowd dispersed.
“The march will also be a symbol of opposition to the atrocities that happened to George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis,” the Wilmington Police Department said in a news release.
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