Peaceful Protest in Fort Payne

Peaceful Protest in Fort Payne

By Marla Jones, Managing

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — (Full Video Below) On Sunday, a peaceful demonstration was carried out on the front steps of the Fort Payne City Police Department due to the recent death of George Floyd and in support of Black Lives Matter.

The death of Floyd has sparked protests across the United States. Floyd died while being detained by Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin. A store employee called 911, after accusing Floyd of trying to purchase cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. During the arrest, Chauvin kept his knee on the side of Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. Floyd could be heard saying “I can’t breathe.”

According to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) website, Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc. is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canda, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.  By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, they are winning immediate improvements in black lives. 

Fort Payne protest organizer Casey Bevel stated in a Facebook video the reasons she wanted to have the demonstration:

“I made a post about walking down the same sidewalk that the KKK (Klu Klux Klan) walked down not that long ago, when I say not that long, I mean like ten years because I believe my baby deserves to be treated like a white man, when he becomes a black man,  that's all I wanted to do.”

As participants of the protest gathered at the Dollar General parking lot, they were met by Fort Payne Police Chief, Randy Bynum who stated that it was their First Amendment right to protest as long as they stayed on and did not obstruct, the sidewalk.  Bynum asked the protestors to work with police officers who were positioned throughout the city. He stated that police officers were there to protect them,  store owners, and even anti-protestors,  in case any violence occurred like in other cities, due to protests. 

Bynum introduced Walter Waston, former Fort Payne Council member, who is African American, to the group of around 40 protesters. Watson led them in prayer, asking them to be peaceful and complimented them for caring about the fair treatment of all citizens. 

As a business owner in Fort Payne, Jack Davidson of Fort Payne Footworks stated that he did not worry about the local protestors. “We know people that are from Fort Payne and DeKalb County love this area.  When something bad happens in this area, they are the first to give to those in need.”

“It’s scary, from what you hear in the media, the majority of the protestors are from out of town. What happened in our small town with a peaceful protest but is being overshadowed by violent protestors in other cities. God bless America!” Davidson went on to say. 

Fort Payne Mayor Larry Chesser was pleased with the actions of both sides. “I am proud of how everyone conducted themselves during the protest.  Either side didn’t go overboard with their actions.  I  am also pleased that it was not outsiders.  It was local people of all color.”

After the twenty-minute protest ended, a Fort Payne police officer opened a vehicle for one of the protesters,  who locked their keys in the car. The sign at the entrance of the Fort Payne City Park, which was placed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, shows the true spirit of the City of Fort Payne and its citizens, “Together Fort Payne.”

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