While media and news outlets around the nation prepared to tell the stories of the more than 100,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus, the nation spent the weekend memorializing one life: George Floyd.
Although the theme of oppression and police brutality is not new, weekend protests and riots around the nation and world have continued the conversation about racism, the American justice system and inequalities that have divided the United States for centuries.
Grayson County joined the call for justice for George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died on May 25 in Minneapolis as a police officer kneeled on his neck, with a peaceful protest Sunday evening. Thousands of area residents and guests joined in solidarity and unity as they walked from Fairview Park in Sherman to the Grayson County Courthouse.
The group was escorted by police vehicles, and at the courthouse, city leaders including Mayor David Plyer, Assistant City Manager Terrence Steele, the Rev. Charles Brown and others, stood in support of the group that gathered as the sunset over the grounds.
"I can’t breathe," "Black Lives Matter," and "Say his name. George Floyd," the crowd yelled as they made the more than two mile walk. After circling the building that was built in 1936 just six years after the Sherman Riot of 1930 — a violent protest on May 9 90 years ago that led to the burning of the first Grayson County Courthouse and the lynching of George Hughes, a black man accused of sexually assaulting a white woman — each member of the group laid face down on the grass.
With their faces to the ground and arms behind their backs giving the visual representation of being handcuffed, the group fell silent in a moment set aside to honor the spirit of George Floyd.
"At the end of the day, we are a human race" protest organizer Joshua Shaw said Monday in a phone interview. "The whole march yesterday, I wanted to have it for every race possible to show the world that you can get your point across in peace. You do not have to riot. You do not have to be aggressive, be violent.You can actually act in love and spread it.They do not want us united and spread it. This is a new time, a new age. We have technology and education. There is no excuse for racism. You can come together in three or four hours and do something successful. The world needs to catch on. I feel like we made history."
The portion of the gathering at the Grayson County Courthouse lasted just 15-20 minutes, but cars stopped along the route for much longer as individuals not associated with the event yelled their support.
"Everyone who has seen that video was shocked and appalled by what they saw," Plyler said. "As you think about it and other things going on around the country, it is great for us as the city of Sherman to come out and grieve with the Floyd family, pray for the Floyd family and support each other....We are looking forward to a peaceful time together. As a community, we can come together to really mourn and be a part of the solution across the country."
After a video went viral showing three police officers surrounding another Minneapolis cop who had his knee on the neck on a suffocating George Floyd, a man being arrested for fraud after purchasing cigarettes with money that was believed to be counterfeit, protesters, celebrities, government and civil rights leaders have spoken out about Floyd’s death while in police custody.
Peaceful protests around the nation turned violent towards the end of last week as rioters and looters began damaging property at sites in Minnesota, New York, Kansas, California and other areas.
In the days following, fires were set around the nation and world as individuals demanded that all officers involved with Floyd’s death be charged.
The arresting officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third degree murder and was arrested Friday.
Since last week more than 4,000 people have been arrested in relation to protests for stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfews set to stop rioters.
In Sherman Sunday evening, there was no criminal mischief or disturbances in the crowd that marched. No arrests were made.
After a few words spoken about the success of the march, Shaw vowed that the group would leave in the same manner it came: peacefully.
The crowd turned from the courthouse and walked back to Fairview Park.
For updated information about ongoing protests, visit http://www.HeraldDemocrat.com.