‘Let’s make this the final fight

POLICE BRUTALITY

Participants in Berryville rally call for racial justice

By MICKEY POWELL

The Winchester Star

BERRYVILLE — Several hundred people attended a unity rally in Berryville on Saturday in support of racial justice.

Organized by a small group of area residents, the rally brought people together to peacefully vent their anger about recent incidents of police brutality, including the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis. Floyd, 46, was a black man who died in police custody while a white police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Floyd had been detained over

See Rally, Page A8

Participants in Saturday’s unity rally in Berryville march along West Main Street, carrying signs, chanting and urging an end to racism, in reaction to lives recently lost across the nation as a result of police brutality.

MICKEY POWELL/ THE WINCHESTER STAR


Rally

From Page A1

an alleged counterfeit $20 incident. The officer has been charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers at the scene who did not intervene have been charged with aiding and abetting Floyd’s death.

Over the past two weeks in Winchester, three peaceful protests have been held for racial justice.

Participants in the Berryville rally expressed the need to end racial bias and for people to care about, and be civil to, their fellow human beings, regardless of the color of their skin.

“ What we witnessed on television from Minneapolis was indeed evil,” said Clarke County Sheriff Tony Roper, referring to cellphone video of Floyd’s death.

“ I feel disgusted,” Berryville Police Chief Neal White said, whenever he hears about incidents in which police officers have not treated people properly.

David Weiss, chairman of the Clarke County Board of Supervisors, called Floyd’s death “a horrible murder.”

“ I was sickened” to hear about it, Weiss said. “ If just one officer had stood up and said, ‘No more,’ George Floyd would have survived.”

White said Berryville Police Department officers are trained to be culturally sensitive and treat people from all segments of society with respect, and he believes Clarke County Sheriff’s Office deputies are, too.

“ I have complete confidence,” said Weiss, that those agencies would not tolerate any mistreatment of the public by their officers.

Starting at Johnson- Williams Middle School, participants marched along Lincoln Street and then Main Street to Rose Hill Park, where the rally was held. They carried signs with messages such as “Black Lives Matter,” “no racist police” and “dark skin is not a crime,” and they chanted the messages along the way.

“We walked together … in love and solidarity,” said the Rev. Jim Smith, pastor of Duncan Memorial

United Methodist Church in Berryville. “We have spoken not only with our words, but also our actions” that racism will not be tolerated in Berryville and Clarke County.

Several black students spoke about situations they have encountered that they believe stemmed from racism. One recalled being stopped by a clerk as she exited a store. The clerk asked to see her receipt for the merchandise she bought, she said, but did not stop several white girls who walked out ahead of her.

“ We’re tired of fighting this (prejudice) alone,” said Terrence Preston Jr., a Clarke County High School student. “ Now that I see that we’re not in this alone,” he said, referring to a large number of people of all races at the rally, “let’s make this the final fight.” It’s up to people to work together to end racism, said Berryville Mayor Patricia Dickinson. That includes community residents working with local leaders to find solutions, she said.

Dickinson and Roper both said that local officials must be held accountable if they do not respond to public concerns.

— Contact Mickey Powell at mpowell@winchesterstar.com

Berryville Police Chief Neal White (center) talks with DeeDee Liggins ( left) and Rose Holmes during the unity rally at Rose Hill Park on Saturday.

MICKEY POWELL/

THE WINCHESTER STAR


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Bill Fuller

Bill Fuller

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