HARLINGEN – The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week has sparked thousands from all over the country protesting and demanding justice.
Here in the Rio Grande Valley, peaceful protesters let their voices be heard in Harlingen. It’s a simple message they want to the community to know.
“Equal justice for all the citizens of this country,” said protester Joyce Vano.
George Floyd’s death is one of many at the hands of police officers.
“It reminded me of Eric Garner back in 2014 how he was murdered in the same way. Even though our community is very small in the Valley, I feel there’s a big conversation that could be had about anti-blackness in the Latin-x community,” said protester Natalie Marquez.
Over a hundred protesters lined 3rd Street and Harrison in Harlingen, all calling for change.
It’s a familiar feeling Murray Blackwell knows well.
“Nobody could ever hear me. Everyone was giving me the cold shoulder,” he said.
He spent 10 years in prison for assault and robbery at age 17, for a crime he said he didn’t commit. He believes a change needs to happen.
“I’ve been preaching about this and crying about this and people just look at me and laugh. People that know me just say you’re playing a victim. Let me put you in prison for 10 years, what are you go be?” he said.
Now, Blackwell is free and advocating for justice.
“I’m going to fight and y’all hate that I possess that and you don’t. That’s just what it is,” he said.
Harlingen Police officers dropped off water bottles to the peaceful protesters to show their support in their right to protest.
“I really thank them for being out there and letting us know what they think,” said Harlingen Police Chief Michael Kester.
He tells us he understands the community outrage and condemns the actions of the officers involved in George Floyd’s death. Since the incident, Police Chief Kester said he reminded staff about their own policies.
“We do not choke people we do not restrain them on the ground or put them in any type of position that would cause that type of asphyxia or even positional asphyxia in some cases,” he said.
The department is looking into taking additional use of force training and cultural diversity training.