DENTON — “Justice for George Floyd” was the central theme for the peaceful protest, Monday, June 8 in front of the courthouse in Denton. Organizers posted on social media ahead of the protest encouraging a safe and peaceful assembly. Ryan Haynes, a graduate of Colonel Richardson High School and Caroline County resident, helped coordinate the event, alongside Shania Garcia-Herrera and Davonte Douglas.
Watching other communities engage in protests addressing racial injustice, Haynes said she felt motivated to do something within Caroline. So many friends and others quickly joined in to help, she said. Her hope is the protest will help raise awareness and create an opportunity for more to learn and pay attention to these issues, in turn impacting legislative change.
The county approved the event ahead of Monday and instructed protestors to stay on the sidewalks to express their constitutional rights. Lt. George W. Bacorn, Jr. Deputy Chief of Denton Police said their goal was to help everyone stay safe. DPD also coordinated with the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office.
Garcia-Herrera, from Caroline County and a senior in college said they wanted to help start a movement here on the Shore. She was impressed, she said to see the overwhelming support at the previous two rallies in Easton. If we take the initiative now, imagine what we can do, she said.
Police brutality is an issue here and from testimony here in the community, there have been issues with the police, she said. The event came together quickly as three reached out to friends and acquaintances on social media and sought the proper permits through the county and town.
We were a little nervous about what to expect, said Garcia, but what we know we want is to have more dialogue and a safe space to make plans on how to change (police violence) so it doesn’t happen again. Garcia said they don’t just want the movement to end when people leave the protest and go home.
Garcia who is a double major in government politics and criminal justice and also an executive member of her school’s NAACP branch said she would like to see more transparency from the county on how budget dollars are spent and specifics on how funding is utilized by the corrections center and law enforcement. She also hopes to help businesses owned by people of color and to form a community that is inclusive of those businesses and those that support them.
“We want the movement to keep going — keep moving forward,” she said.
The idea started with a tweet that Caroline County needs a protest — one that remains peaceful and legal, said organizer Davonte Douglas. We wanted to get the word out about things in the community we see can be changed, beginning with police reformation and with national attention on the subject now is the time to do that, he said.
For Douglas and one of his colleagues there have been small instances where they were both misjudged based on the color of their skin — assumptions were made, he said. One younger man recounted being pulled over for being in excess of the speed limit by 4 mph, “I was asked to get out of my car,” he said, “and the police (officer) did seem to be a little twitchy around me.”
Although the conduct of law enforcement officers is being highlighted right now, both men agreed that racism even if not blatant is salient in Caroline County. It is seen at the local level in politics and in the educational system and curriculum, he said.
“It worries me as a young African American male what could happen,” said Douglas, “This is not just an issue that black people are facing and not just an issue caused by white people — these are issues affecting all of us.”