‘They stole our protest.’ Day nine of Fort Worth protests take new path, message

June 6,2020

See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article by Kailey Broussard here.

Saturday’s protests in front of the Tarrant Count Courthouse began with community leaders, officials and candidates for local office urging hundreds of protesters to register to vote.

When it came time to march, however, the crowd left the courthouse and marched in the opposite direction, taking direction from new leaders who called for a protest without political interest. Organizers scrambled to make sense of the events as the crowd left.

“They stole our protest,” said Donnell Ballard, one of the protest’s organizers who has planned several protests over the last several days.

Ballard said he may have planned his last gathering after a few protesters threw a wrench in his original plans. As he watched the group march toward Sundance Square, he said he worried the movement would fall apart if multiple groups were vying to control the message.

“We’re preaching about love and peace and unity. They’re preaching about hate,” Ballard said.

The crowd, which grew to several hundred people by the end of the night, wound down Seventh Street to stops including Montgomery Plaza and Crockett Row. Protesters stopped in front of bars and restaurants and in front of vehicles as they knelt, raised fists in the air, and demanded acknowledgment. No arrests or violence was observed throughout the evening as protesters marched for over four hours.

Saturday’s gathering marked the ninth day of protests in Fort Worth after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd by kneeling on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

Some marchers did not know the plans abruptly changed. Saturday marked Christy Redeaux’s first time protesting in wake of Floyd’s death. She said she was grateful for the opportunity to voice her frustrations and hoped officials were listening.

“They keep saying that they hear us, but they’re not making the changes, so I’m hoping that they’re actually going to put action behind their words,” Redeaux said.

Kim Lewis of Fort Worth marched the first leg of the protest with her grandchildren after they expressed concern about current events. She said she wanted Kynnedy, 9, and Trayden, 5, to be informed.

“This is the way the world is. They have to learn,” she said.

Some who noticed that leadership changed said they were glad protesters took charge instead of politicians. Rod Smith, a Fort Worth resident, said the change in plans was necessary to shift focus from political divisions to the need for change.

“We’re not allowing you to campaign on our turf,” Smith said. We’re not allowing you to campaign right now because this is a movement. We’re trying to fight and end police brutality and cause police reform,” Smith said.

Location Mentioned: Tarrant County Courthouse