Monroe County saw its third protest march in a week on Sunday, and organizers wanted to make sure community engagement following the death of George Floyd doesn’t fade away.
After a march through East Stroudsburg, speakers at Dansbury Park encouraged attendees to vote, donate, educate themselves and have tough conversations with friends and family members.
Sunday’s event was the second march that East Stroudsburg resident Caseem Johnson had a major hand in organizing, with help from Democratic state representative candidate Adam Rodriguez and others. Separately, Stroudsburg High School students led a march on Saturday in response to a racist video from a fellow student.
A wave of protests has been held across the country following Floyd’s death. The Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes has been charged with second-degree murder.
“We should be back here next week, next month, next year,” said Claudette Williams, the Democratic candidate for state representative from the 176th District. “And we won’t stop until we get what we’re asking for.”
Williams spoke about the fear that black mothers have for their sons.
“I’m afraid for his life,” Williams said of her son, an Atlanta police officer. “He might wear that uniform, but once he takes that uniform off, he’s a black man. And his life is in danger. And this should not be.”
Rodriguez spoke about Campaign Zero, which aims to end police violence through reforms such as ending “broken windows” policing, community oversight of police and other measures.
If elected, Williams and Rodriguez, who is running in the 189th District, would be among the officials organizers intend to hold accountable through regular forums.
“This is not something we want to do once. Twice,” said Demetri Thompson. “This is something that I feel — the people who are behind this feel — that we can get them to do once a month.”
The forums should be a place for officials to both answer and ask questions, Thompson said.
Organizer plan to invite state representatives, and even Gov. Tom Wolf, which Thompson acknowledged was a “long shot.”
“We want to see if our voice really matters to you,” Thompson said. “It’s obviously going to be peaceful, because we’ve done it quite peacefully. So there would be no reason for you not to come here and answer to your constituents that just want to have some questions answered.”
In other workplaces, if the boss has a question, an employee has to answer, Thompson pointed out. “What’s the difference, ladies and gentlemen?”
And if officials don’t show up to protests and forums when they’re asked?
“That should say enough. They don’t care enough if they’re not here to listen to our voice. We elect them. It’s our vote. We got them the job,” Johnson said.
“Put your vote elsewhere if they’re not here to support us,” he finished.