Vernon protesters take Black Lives Matter movement to park

A handful of protesters chanted ‘I can’t breathe’ at Vernon’s Polson Park June 5, 2020, in honour of George Floyd, a United States man who died after a police officer restrained him with a knee hold for nearly nine minutes. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
A dozen protesters held signs and raised fists in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter movement in Polson Park June 5, 2020. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
A dozen protesters held signs and raised fists in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter movement in Polson Park June 5, 2020. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Organizer Zada Varney, 17, holds a Black Lives Matter sign during a protest at Polson Park June 5, 2020. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

A handful of protesters raised their fists and signs in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement Friday at Polson Park.

Organized by teens Celina Galbraith, 18, and Zada Varney, 17, protesters chanted, “I can’t breathe,” as cars honked their horns in support along Highway 97 June 5.

The duo isn’t a part of any organization, rather the issue seen across headlines and social media pushed them to take up the cause on a local level.

“Canada is not superior,” Varney said, in comparison to the United States.

“Police brutality is still a thing,” Galbraith said.

Varney and Galbraith, both Caucasian, said it is important to stand and show support for all.

“We as ‘white people’ will never understand what it’s like,” Varney said. “But waking up every day thinking this could be your last simply because of your colour in a society that doesn’t accept you is not OK.”

In response to a passing motorist that shouted “All lives matter!” the young activists said: “Not all lives matter until black lives matter.”

READ MORE: Hundreds of people gather at Black Lives Matter rally in Kelowna

Meanwhile, in Kelowna, several black community groups stated they weren’t in support of a rally that drew nearly 600 people to Stuart Park Friday afternoon. Upon hearing criticisms and concerns from other community activists, youth advocacy group Earth Strike Vernon pulled its support from the BLM protest in Vernon.

The organizers said they too heard criticism, but they didn’t let it deter them.

“I understand that I will never understand,” Varney said. “But this needs to end.”

“People is what makes change.”

READ MORE: Youth advocacy group pulls out of Vernon Black Lives Matter protest

READ MORE: ‘I just felt I had to do something’: Vernon Black Lives Matter protest organizer


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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