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Fort Worth protesters march to north side, plan to continue rallies throughout the week

June 7,2020

See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article by Kaley Johnson here.

Despite Sunday’s sweltering heat, a 10th protest against police brutality began at 6 p.m. in downtown Fort Worth.

Hundreds of protesters met on the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse. The courthouse has become a meeting place, and a kind of sanctuary, for protesters over the past week and a half as hundreds of people demand police reform after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

Someone had covered up the Confederate monument at the courthouse with a linen cloth, which bore the handwritten words; “Monuments made during Jim Crow serve to keep racism alive. This exists to erase our racist past.”

The marker is dedicated to Confederate war soldiers and their descendants; a lawyer recently renewed his call to have the memorial removed at Tarrant County Commissioners meeting.

At about 6:15 p.m., protesters marched down North Main Street to north Fort Worth. They took a break next to a rundown, red brick building that offered a shady respite from the sun.

That building at 1012 N. Main St. also happens to be the only building in the country still standing that was built for and used by the Ku Klux Klan.

“What we are doing is powerful,” a speaker said when he pointed this out.

The KKK built the meeting hall and headquarters in 1921 and again in 1924 after it burned down. The white supremacist group used it as their headquarters in Fort Worth for about three years.

The group continued on North Main Street and turned onto West Northside Drive. They reached Jacksboro Highway and walked back downtown.

A smaller group marched through downtown at about 9 p.m. Nearly everyone left the courthouse by 10:30 p.m., but many said they plan to be back on Monday.

Protest leaders said they plan to continue to march throughout the week. A protest is planned at the Tarrant County courthouse on Monday at 5:30 p.m.

On Saturday, protesters marched through downtown’s streets after some slight confusion. The organizers, Donnell Ballard and Carol Harrison-Lafayette, directed the demonstration one way, but some protesters purposefully chose another path.

The split in the protest was a mark of ongoing friction within the group. When Fort Worth officials passed an 8 p.m. curfew for June 1 through June 4, organizers would end the march and encourage people to go home to abide by the rule. But at least 100 people stayed each night that the curfew was in place. Most of those who have broken off from the main group are younger. Both groups have been peaceful.

“We’re preaching about love and peace and unity. They’re preaching about hate,” Ballard told the Star-Telegram Saturday night.

On Sunday, he apologized for his remarks in a Facebook video.

“I allowed my emotions to take over me while being put in a situation where I was not comfortable,” he said. “I will continue to push for unity and hope, and continue to push for peace as we continue to fight for justice.”

Location Mentioned: Tarrant County Courthouse